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The Library 
University of California, Los Angeles 




JEWISH HOLIDAY STORIES 

MODERN TALES OF THE 
AMERICAN JEWISH YOUTH 

By 
ELMA EHRUCH LEVINGER 




SECOND PRINTING 



NEW YORK 
BLOCH PUBLISHING COMPANY 

"THE JEWISH BOOK CONCERN" 

1921 



Copyright, 1918, by 
BLOCK PUBLISHING CO. 



101 



TO THE MOTHER AND AUNT 

WHO READ ME MY FIRST STORIES 

THIS VOLUME OF TALES IS 

LOVINGLY DEDICATED 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS .... 7 

A Sabbath Story 

A NEW PAGE 23 

A Rash Hashonah Story 

A BIG MISTAKE 43 

A Yom Kippur Story 

HIS OWN SUCCAH 55 

A Succoth Story 

THE COWARD 65 

A Simchath Torah Story 

THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED . 79 

A Channukah Story 

THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE . . 91 

A Chamishah Osor Story 

THE PURIM PUSSY . . . . . 107 

A Purim Story 

A REAL PASSOVER . . . . .121 

A Passover Story 

THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND . 147 

A Lag B'omer Story 

CLOTHES _^ . . 159 

A Shabuoth Story 

THE WESTERN WALL .... 179 

A Tisha B'ab Story 

The stories for Succoth, Chamishah Osor and Lag B'omer have 
been adapted from the stories of the same name appearing in The 
Hebrew Standard. The Shabuoth story is an adaptation of a tale 
appearing in The Ark. It is through the courtesy of these two 
periodicals that they are included in this volume. 



JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 

A Sabbath Story 

Judith Weil was only four years old, but on 
a certain Friday afternoon she felt that she 
was a very big girl, indeed. Her mother had 
always insisted that on Friday nights she should 
have her usual early supper and go to bed 
directly after the Kiddush services, which ush- 
ered in the Sabbath, were over. But Judith's 
cousin Helen, who had come from college to 
spend her spring vacation with the family, had 
pleaded so hard in Judith's behalf that Mrs. 
Weil had smilingly promised to postpone the 
little girl's bedtime that evening until eight 
o'clock. 

<f ['m a great big girl and I'm going to stay 
up till eight o'clock," Judith sang merrily, as 
she trotted after her mother, busy with her 
preparations for the Sabbath. "I'm a big girl 
now, mama. Let me help chop the fish." 

Mrs. Weil, moving quickly about the spotless 
7 



8 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

kitchen, shook her head. "No, dearie, it's all 

chopped and ready to cook." 

"Then let me peel the potatoes please! I 

won't cut myself once, 'cause I'm a big girl," 

insisted Judith. 

"Cousin Helen peeled them for me," answered 

her mother. "Now run off and play with your 

dolly. Mama's busy and she has to hurry with 

supper." 
But Judith was determined to help. "I want 

to cut the bread," she pleaded. 'Til make nice 

little bits of slices and " 

Her mother placed two freshly baked loaves 

upon a platter and covered them with a white 
embroidered napkin. Sometimes it seemed to 

Judith that on Friday night even the table linen 
seemed more white and fresh, as though in 
honor of the Sabbath. "But you know we don't 
cut the bread for Shabbas," she reminded Judith 
as she carried the loaves into the dining room. 
"I know papa breaks it off and gives every- 
body a little piece and he says something in 
Hebrew when he holds up the glass of rod 
Shabbas water," Judith declared, proud to show 
cousin Helen all she knew about the Kiddush 
service, even if she just couldn't remember that 
big people called "Shabbas water" wine. "And 
first you light the candles in the big silver 
sticks. Let me light 'em tonight, mama, please, 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 9 

'cause I'm a big girl now and I'm going to 
stay up till eight o'clock," she ended im- 
pressively. 

Her mother laughed as she placed the heavy 
silver candlesticks on the table. tc Not till 
you're married and have a home of your own, 
sweetheart," she told her. "I'm afraid," she 
murmured to cousin Helen who was arranging 
the knives and forks on the shining white table 
cloth, "that we'll never have a minute's peace, 
now that you've made her think she's grown up. 
By the way, what do you think of our Shabbas 
candlesticks, Helen? I know your mother told 
you about them." 

"They belonged to grandma and she gave 
them to mama," interrupted Judith, "and mama 
told me a story about 'em. Once when grand- 
ma was alive," and she plunged into the story 
of the candlesticks, which had always meant 
more to her than even her favorite fairy tales. 

She was still telling cousin Helen the story of 
the Shabbas lights when father came home. 
Then she broke off long enough to eat the sup- 
per which she considered the very best meal 
of the whole week ; it wasn't because there was 
always special kuchen or twisted cakes with 
raisins; but, somehow, the lighted candles in 
their shining holders, the blessing over the wine 
and bread, and the songs which ended the Sab- 



10 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

bath festival made the simple family dinner 
seem "just like a party." And to-night every- 
thing seemed more wonderful than ever, for 
wasn't she staying up till eight o'clock and 
didn't pretty cousin Helen not only put her 
to bed, but sit down beside her and listen to 
the rest of the "candlestick story" until mother 
called that she must turn out the lights and 
come away! 

Of course, the next day was just as delightful 
as Shabbas always was for Judith. There was 
Sabbath School in the morning to which Judith 
proudly escorted cousin Helen, the weekly walk 
with her parents in the afternoon, and, last of 
all, the evening meal with its special blessings 
and the quaint old silver spice box, which Ju- 
dith always sniffed delightedly before she put 
it away in the sideboard drawer and turned 
the key. Then came her special task of wiping 
the candlesticks with a soft cloth before she 
climbed upon a chair to place them on the man- 
tlepiece on each side of the clock. It struck 
seven just then and Judith's sunny face dark- 
ened at mother's familiar "Hurry and push 
the chairs back, little girl; it's almost time to 
go to bed." 

"But if you and papa go to the party, I want 
to stay up and keep cousin Helen company," 
Judith suggested politely. 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 11 

Mr. Weil laughed. "I guess cousin Helen will 
be able to amuse herself." He turned to Helen 
who was helping Mrs. Weil clear the table. 
"I'm sorry we have to leave you home, but we 
accepted the invitation several weeks ago, and 
you wouldn't enjoy yourself with a crowd of 
old folks, would you?" 

"Now don't worry about me, uncle Jonas. 
I've been having such a lively time going to 
parties and theaters all week that after I've 
tucked Judith in bed, I'll be about ready to go 
to sleep myself," Helen told him. "And it's 
about time for you to come upstairs now, lady," 
she smiled to Judith, holding out her hand. 
"Let me get you all ready for bed by the time 
mama and papa leave and then I'll tell you a 
nice story." 

"About fairies," begged Judith as she hopped 
up the stairs beside her cousin. "And brownies 
and the fairy godmother and the three bears and 
little Red Kidinghood. Tell me all about 'em, 
cousin Helen." 

"Do you think I'm going to tell you stories 
all night, you bad girl?" Helen pretended to 
scold her. "I'll just tell you about Goldilocks 
and the three bears and then I'm going to hunt 
up a nice book and take it to my room and go to 
bed myself." 

Judith protested that she would have to hear 



12 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the story of Cinderella, too, and maybe the tale 
of Red Ridinghood and her grandmother; but 
even before cousin Helen had finished telling her 
the early adventures of Goldilocks, her lids be- 
gan to droop, and, by the time the tiny bear was 
crying for his breakfast, Judith was sleeping 
soundly with never a thought of the other stories 
for which she had clamored. 

When she woke up, the room was dark save 
for a broad ray of light that streamed through 
the open door from cousin Helen's room across 
the hall. Judith suddenly decided that she 
wanted to hear the rest of the bear story; she 
slipped out of bed, pulled her little pink bath- 
robe over her nightgown and pattered across 
the hall. Standing on the threshold, she saw 
that cousin Helen had fallen asleep without 
putting out the light, an open book lying on 
the bed near her pillow. Judith wondered 
whether it wouldn't be great fun to pounce upon 
the bed and cry "Boo" or growl like one of the 
angry bears in the story. She wouldn't scare 
poor cousin Helen very much Judith had never 
been afraid of anything in her whole life and if 
she woke her up it, might mean the rest of the 
story. Then she heard voices in the dining room 
below; perhaps papa and mama had come home, 
she thought, smiling gleefully to think how sur- 
prised they would be if she ran down and 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 13 

kissed them. Or, perhaps it was company, 
thought Judith, gome of the young people who 
were always dropping in to see cousin Helen; 
then wouldn't it be nice to run down and wel- 
come them and tell them to wait until she woke 
up cousin Helen and told her to dress. Giggling 
with excitement, Judith slipped softly down the 
stairs and a moment later stood in the doorway 
of the dining room, blinking a little in the sud- 
den light that flooded the room. 

She gave a little gasp of astonishment at what 
she saw and at the sound one of the two men 
kneeling before the open drawer of the sideboard 
turned and looked at her. The third stranger 
who was stuffing the silver knives and forks into 
a great bag heard his cry of alarm and came 
toward Judith threateningly. But she was not 
frightened and stood smiling up at him ; she was 
only puzzled who these strange visitors might 
be, for they wore shabby clothes and had queer 
bits of black cloth across their faces. And why 
were they taking the silver out of the sideboard 
drawer and why was the cross-looking man 
putting mother's best knives into his bag? 

"Don't you say a word," commanded the man 
who stood over Judith, one hand still clutching 
the bag, ike other threatening her. "If you 
do" 

"Let the kid alone," muttered the stranger at 



14 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the sideboard. "We can't risk anything like 
that. Hurry and finish and we'll go." 

"But aren't you going to wait for papa and 
mama?" asked Judith innocently. "I don't 
think they knew you were coming did they?" 
She seated herself comfortably, drawing her 
bare feet under her bathrobe, for the air from the 
open window was a little chilly. "And why 
have you those funny pieces of rag on your 
faces?" 

One of the men had not spoken, but after a 
long look at Judith had gone on with his work 
which seemed to consist of prying open the 
lowest drawer of the sideboard. Now he said 
sharply and quickly: "She won't bother us; 
just hurry and finish." He turned back to 
Judith. "We're wearing our new caps," he ex- 
plained gravely. "It is cold so late at night and 
these shields keep our faces warm." 

Judith liked the man's voice. It wasn't so 
coarse and harsh as the voices of the other two 
men; she noticed, too, that his hands were long 
and white while theirs seemed dirty and dis- 
colored. She slipped from her chair and went 
to him, looking over his shoulder as he worked. 
"What are you doing with the lock?" she asked 
him. "You're going to scratch the sideboard if 
you're not careful." 

"Your ma forgot to leave us the keys," 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 15 

chuckled the man beside them, as he handed a 
silver fruit-basket to the man with the bag. 

"But she wont want you to take all her pretty 
silver away," Judith told them gravely. 

<0 Tes she will, sister," he answered with 
another chuckle. <f We've been sent by the jew- 
elry store to fetch away all this silver and have 
it cleaned." Judith could see him winking at 
his companions, but she didn't understand just 
why he should be so amused. "And she told 
us to get all the jewelry, too, and take it along. 
Know where it is?" 

"She always keeps it upstairs in the dresser 
drawer," Judith answered readily. "But to- 
night she's got her rings on and her earrings, 
'cause she went to Mrs. Kaufman's party and is 
all dressed up. And if you go upstairs you'll 
wake up cousin Helen." 

"Didn't I tell you to hurry?" warned the man 
with the pleasant voice. "There!" as the lock 
fell and he pulled the drawer open. "I thought 
I could pick it. Help me with this truck, 
Mark." 

"Do it yourself, Ben," returned the man who 
was filling the bag. "I see something else we'll 
have to kave cleaned," and he laughed for the 
first time, but so harshly that Judith felt a 
little frightened although she hardly knew why. 
"It'd be like you to pass up the candlesticks by 



16 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the clock and I bet they're worth more'n all 
the other stuff put together." 

He crossed over to the mantlepiece and took 
down the candle-sticks. But as he was about to 
slip them into the bag, Judith caught his arm. 
"You mustn't take them away," she said quietly. 
"Mama wouldn't like it." 

"She told us she wanted 'em cleaned," said 
the man, who had winked and chuckled. 
"Didn't she, Ben?" 

His companion turned and stared at the sil- 
ver sticks. "Shabbas candlesticks," he mut- 
tered. "I haven't seen any since I wasn't much 
bigger than her, but I remember 'em." 

"Guess 111 remember to take them along," 
answered Mark and for the second time he 
seemed about to drop them into his bag, when 
Judith again interfered, speaking more earn- 
estly than before. 

"I wont let you take those candlesticks to the 
store," she said just as quietly as ever, but with 
a stubborn little frown appearing between her 
eyes. "They don't need cleaning. Mama 
cleans them herself every Friday night and if 
I've been a good girl on Shabbas she lets me 
wipe them off and put them back on the mantle. 
Grandma gave them to her when she got 
married and she says she likes them better than 
all her other wedding presents." 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 17 

"I knew they were worth a lot," the man with 
the bag told the others. 

"It isn't 'cause they cost so much," Judith 
corrected him, very glad to have a new audience 
for her favorite tale. "But they've got a story. 
I like things best when they have a story, don't 
you?" she appealed to the man who had broken 
the lock, certain that he would enjoy the tale 
even if the others wouldn't. 

"I guess so. What's your story?" he asked, 
continuing to empty the drawer, but in rather 
an absent way, his eyes never leaving her face. 

"Once upon a time," commenced Judith, set- 
tling herself at his side and beginning her 
favorite story as cousin Helen always began her 
fairy tales, "once upon a time my grandma 
married my grandpa 'way over there in Kussia. 
Do you know where that is?" 

"My mother and father came from there," 
answered the man, but so low that Judith 
hardly caught the words. 

"They were very very poor," went on Judith, 
using the words she had heard her mother use 
so often that she knew them by heart, "and 
grandma's papa had no nice present to give 
them except two candlesticks which his own 
mother had received upon her wedding day. So 
he gave them to my grandma for a wedding 
present." 



18 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"Hurry up," cautioned the man at Ms side. 
"Let her talk if it keeps her quiet, but go on 
with your work, will you?" But the man they 
called Ben did not seem to hear him. 

"Grandma lit the Shabbas lights every single 
Friday night," the little girl continued. "And 
when grandpa got rich enough to have a store 
she liked them better than all the nice things 
he bought her." She paused impressively for a 
moment just as she had noticed her mother 
pause at this point of the story, then went on 
very slowly. "There were many bad people 
there who did not like us; they wanted to rob 
and kill all the Jewish people they could find. 
It was just Pesach you know what Pesach is, 
don't you?" she demanded of the three 
strangers. 

"Yes, yes, go on," answered the man with the 
bag, impatiently. He had dropped the candle- 
sticks into it without attracting her attention 
and was now helping the chuckling man to 
empty the last drawer. 

"I used to ask the four questions when I 
was a little boy," answered Ben. "I know all 
about it." 

"It was just Pesach," repeated the child, "and 
some bad people started to burn all the houses 
where the Jewish people lived and shot them 
when they tried to run away. Grandma and 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 19 

grandpa were sitting at the Seder table when 
they heard the noise outside. They were scared 
and they tried to run away by the back door and 
hide in the schul where there was a big thick 
door and nobody could get at them. Grandma 
was as frightened as she could be, but she ran 
for the candlesticks and hid them under her 
apron. Then they ran as fast as they could and 
as they turned the corner ", again she paused, 
this time to ask impressively: ''What do you 
think happened?" 

"I can't guess." 

"A man came up and stopped them. And he 
had a pistol and he said he would shoot both 
of them if they didn't give him everything he 
wanted. Grandma gave the man her wedding 
ring and breastpin and tried to keep Mm from 
seeing the candlesticks. But he pulled her 
shawl off and when he saw them " 

"Did he take 'em too?" asked the man who 
chuckled, interested in spite of himself. 

"Of course not !" Judith told him indignantly, 
forgetting for the moment that he did not know 
the story as well as she did. "The man said: 
'So you took time to bring your Shabbas candle- 
sticks?' And he said it in Yiddish, just the 
way the Jewish people talk over there. And 
grandma looked him straight in the eye and 
said 'You speak Yiddish like a Jew and you 



20 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

know what Shabbas candlesticks are. You were 
a Jew once and should be ashamed to leave 
your people and try to rob them in the streets. 
Do you know what you ought to do? Come with 
us to the schul and help us and the other Jews 
there until the police come.' And she gave him 
the candlesticks and said: 'You are stronger 
than we are and you have a pistol. Carry these 
to the schul and keep them safe that I may light 
them again as your mother used to do on Friday 
nights when your father blessed you/ And the 
man cried mama said he did, but I don't be- 
lieve big men ever cry, do you?" 

"How should I know?" answered Ben and his 
voice was husky. 

"And he took care of the candlesticks for 
grandma," ended Judith happily, "and was 
never bad again as long as he lived. Mamma 
says she doesn't know about that, but I don't be- 
lieve he was 'cause " 

Mark gave a low warning whistle. "Some one 
at the front door," he exclaimed. "Quick", and 
he led the way to the open window. Judith 
stared after him. "Why why " she began 
helplessly, but some one turned off the electric 
light and she found herself in the darkness, 
groping to reach her father and mother whom 
she heard calling out in the front hall. 

It was hard work to make Judith understand 



JUDITH'S CANDLESTICKS 21 

the next morning that "the three men with the 
funny black rags on their faces" were burglars 
who had kept her amused while they robbed the 
house. She could not understand how they 
could be bad men for they had not seemed at all 
like the wicked robbers in cousin Helen's story 
of "The Forty Thieves." And she found it 
even harder to understand why her mother cried 
as though she were sorry, a few days later, when 
the mailman brought a big package with the 
two silver candlesticks. For Judith was only a 
very little girl and it was not until years later 
that she really understood the letter that had 
come with them, the letter she gave me to read 
the other day, when she asked me to write this 
story. 

"Dear Madam," it ran. "Here are your 
candlesticks. I'm a Jew myself and when I 
heard your little girl talking I remembered how 
my mother used +r> light the candles and I felt 
pretty bad. I got the men to keep the rest and 
let me have the candlesticks. I hope you wont 
tell the little girl what I was doing. She seemed 
to like me and treated me like an honest man. I 
was until a little while ago and I'm going to 
try again." 

No name was signed to the letter, but some- 
times when Judith cleans the Shabbas candle- 
sticks, she wonders whether Ben kept his word. 



A NEW PAGE 

A Rosh Hashonah Story 

Through the open window Harry could hear 
the other boys of the Jewish Orphans' Home 
enjoying the play hour which came between dis- 
missal from school and the "washing-up bell," 
just before supper time. His geography lay on 
the desk before him, conscientiously opened to 
the map of Africa. Harry had failed disgrace- 
fully in his geography lesson that afternoon and 
Miss Herman, his teacher, had been cruel 
enough to suggest that he spend his play hour in 
drawing the map of the dark continent. So 
Harry had obediently sharpened his pencil, 
taken out a sheet of map paper and his geogra- 
phy and had spent a good half hour gazing out 
of the window, wishing that he might be playing 
ball or tag in the warm September sunshine. 

It wasn't his fault, he reflected angrily, that 
he had failed in his lesson. To be sure, he had 
studied only the first five questions, but how 
was he to know that Miss Herman would call 
upon him for the seventh? Anyhow, he hated 
geography; they always expected you to learn 
the wrong things like the names of rivers and 

23 



24 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

how to spell them, too! when the only thing 
you cared for were the pictures of lions and 
monkeys and black men with bushy hair. 
Harry forgot for a moment that he intended to 
be a street-car conductor when he grew up, and 
decided that it would be a pleasant thing to 
sail to Africa like the hero of one of his favorite 
story books, to trade with the black men and 
finally be elected as their king. Nobody would 
care if a lion chewed him up or a snake bite 
Mm, he reflected, not even Miss Herman, who 
pretended to like him and then kept him in on 
the very afternoon that he was to be first at 
bat in the schoolyard game. As for Sarah 
well, he supposed she would cry and wear black 
for a little while as any repectable twin sister 
would; but he knew she wouldn't miss him as 
long as she had all the pretty clothes she wanted. 
It had been just two weeks since Sarah had 
left the Orphans' Home. She and her twin 
brother had known no other home for the past 
six years. The death of their mother when they 
were four years old had left them without home 
and parents, but as long as the twins were to- 
gether, they could not help feeling, as Sarah 
once put it in her funny grown-up fashion, that 
they '*had a real family." Sarah was extremely 
proud of her active, wilful brother and never 
ashamed of showing how much she cared for 



.A NEW PAGE 25 

him; but Harry, who like most "boys was very 
much afraid of seeming "soft", especially when 
his sister was concerned, not only refused to 
pet her, even in private, but took an unnatural 
delight in teasing and tormenting the little girl, 
especially when the other boys were about. 

"Here comes Harry and his girl," Jake Perl- 
berg would jeer whenever Sarah would insist 
upon following her brother about the play- 
ground. "Say, I wouldn't call her a twin she's 
a regular shadow." 

Harry hated to be teased and poor Sarah 
never failed to suffer when he smarted under 
Jake's jeering. "You just go over to your side 
of the yard and play jacks or jump rope with 
the girls," Harry would command in a fierce 
whisper, "or I" he sometimes paused to think 
of a very fearful threat, "or I won't speak to 
you for a week." 

"Just let me sit on the steps here and watch 
you play ball," Sarah would plead. "I get lonely 
on the other side of the yard and I like to 
be near VOIL" 

"You do just what I tell you," was the stern 
answer. "And if you don't mind me, I'll run 
off and be a sailor or a soldier or something. 
And then you'll be lonely all right!" 

But Harry was not obliged to run away to 
escape his sister's embarrassing attentions. 



26 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

As he sat alone in the schoolroom that sunny 
September afternoon, a few days before Kosh 
Hashonah, he knew only too well that there was 
no Sarah waiting outside to sympathize with 
him as soon as Ms captivity was over. For 
just two weeks before Sarah had been adopted 
and had left the Home and her brother to 
live with Mr. and Mrs. Stern in their beautiful 
house in the suburbs. Miss Herman and Mr. 
Fridus, the superintendent of the Home, had 
both objected to breaking up the twins' "fam- 
ily." But as Mrs. Stern insisted that she 
couldn't be bothered with two children and 
didn't care much for boys anyhow, it had 
seemed best to allow Sarah to leave her brother. 
Sarah had cried a good deal and protested that 
she just couldn't desert Harry until Miss Her- 
man comforted her with promises of frequent 
visits; while Harry had pretended very success- 
fully that he was really relieved to be rid of 
"that silly girl" as he called her, and threatened 
to fight Jake, when that mischief-maker accused 
him of feeling "home-sick." 

Perhaps Harry wasn't "home-sick," but he 
certainly missed Sarah. He wasn't very fond of 
her, of course, but he wanted somebody around 
who didn't mind his teasing. He knew he 
wouldn't care a cent for her letters, yet he 
felt strangely resentful because she had not sent 



A NEW PAGE 27 

him even a post-card since going to her new 
home. Well, he just wouldn't write to her, he 
decided, and if she got too lonely without Mm, 
it was her own fault. 

The door opened and Miss Herman entered. 
Harry admired her secretly and was sure that 
she was the prettiest and smartest teacher in the 
Home; but he would not have let her know for 
the world. Only "sissies" loved their teachers 
and Harry did not want to be considered one of 
that despised class. At that moment he wanted 
to snuggle close against Miss Herman, to tell 
her he felt lonely and abused, but knew he was 
bad and was going to try to do better; instead, 
he scowled fiercely and when asked to show his 
map muttered: "Haven't done it yet." 

"You had better do it as soon as you can," 
suggested Miss Herman quietly. "You will have 
to stay in until you do and it is almost supper 
time now." Then she went out without another 
word. 

Harry tore his sheet of map paper viciously 
across. He wouldn't draw that old map, he de- 
cided, if they kept him here all night no, not 
if he had to stay locked up as long as the man 
in the poem in his reader stayed in his dungeon. 
He grew quite cheerful over the prospect. It 
must be very interesting to live in a dungeon 
and make friends of rats and lizards and not 



28 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

come out until your hair was white and have 
people make up poetry about you to be studied in 
English classes. Which reminded Harry that 
he hadn't prepared his English composition for 
next week. He wasn't in any hurry to do it ; he 
usually preferred the fifteen minutes before 
English for writing compositions, but now any- 
thing seemed better than drawing maps of 
Africa. He took out his composition book and 
scrawled the assigned topic, "Rosh Hashonah 
and What It Means to Me," carefully under- 
lining the title. Then he stopped to wonder just 
what to write, for how could he tell enough 
about Rosh Hashonah to fill the required page? 
"She said we were to tell first what it meant," 
he remembered at last, and wrote : "Rosh Hash- 
onah is Hebrew; it means the head of the year. 
It is the day that begins the year." Another 
pause in which he stared at two happy flies buz- 
zing on the pane. Flies didn't have to go to 
school and draw maps and write compositions, 
he thought enviously. Flies were in luck! At 
last he remembered another sentence from a 
talk on Rosh Hashonah which Mr. Fridus had 
given the children the year before, so he added : 
"Rosh Hashonah is the day for beginning 
things. If we have been bad, we begin all over 
again. We make resolutions to do right and 
keep them and then we are good and get every- 



A NEW PAGE 29 

thing we want." Again his pen stopped abruptly 
and for a long time Harry sat with his elbows 
on his desk, clutching his hair with both hands, 
a he tried to think of something else to write. 
Suddenly he grinned joyously. 

"Gee, it'll be easy," he told himself, "I'll just 
fill the rest of the old thing with good resolu- 
tions." He wrote rapidly : "It is a good thing to 
make resolutions to be good; if yo,u don't, you 
wont know just what you are going to do all the 
next year. My resolutions are as follows : 1. I 
resolve not to play ball near enough to break any 
more windows, because Mr. Fridus says the next 
time I break a window he will take away my five 
cents every week until it is paid for. 2. I re- 
solve not to spill things on the table cloth, 
especially soup. 3. I will clean my teeth 
every morning if I do not forget or don't have 
to hurry to get to breakfast on time. 4. I re- 
solve not to fight Jake any more unless he hits 
me first. 5. I will study all my lessons. 6. I 
shall blacken my shoes every Friday and not 
talk during services unless somebody asks me 
something." He hesitated, then, seeing that 
there was one line to fill before completing the 
page, he added. "And I resolve not to miss 
people any more; it don't pay." He closed the 
book feeling unusually virtuous. "I'll copy it 
before Tuesday," he promised himself, "and may- 



30 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

be I'll change that last part, 'cause I really don't 
miss Sarah." 

Miss Herman had not closed the door and now 
Harry sniffed a most tantalizing odor from the 
kitchen further down the hall: evidently there 
was to be hot ginger bread for supper Suddenly 
he decided that he didn't want to live on bread 
crusts like the man in the reader poetry; he 
preferred his regular meals. And, since Miss 
Herman always kept her word, it might be 
wiser to draw his map and take it to her before 
the supper bell rang. Whistling softly, he be- 
gan to draw an object somewhat resembling a 
deformed mushroom with twisted lines wherever 
Harry felt like inserting a river. 

Although he had written the Rosh Hashonah 
resolutions merely to fill his page, the more 
Harry thought about them, the more serious he 
became. Whenever Harry wasn't planning some 
mischief, he took himself very seriously, far 
more seriously than Max, who shared his seat at 
school, who always had high marks in every- 
thing and usually won a prize for good be- 
havior at the end of the term. Harry did not 
approve of Max, whom he called a "regular 
girl baby ;" yet in his more thoughtful moments, 
lie couldn't help thinking how nice it would be 
to have everybody praising him the way they did 
Max, from Mr. Fridus down to the fat cook, 



A NEW PAGE 31 

who never allowed Harry to enter her kitchen. 
As though he had meant to upset a pail of 
milk the day he had rummaged the pantry for 
cookies! "Yes, sir," Harry told himself sud- 
denly at the supper table that night, "I'm 
going to be good. I'm going to learn those res- 
olutions by heart and stick to every one of 
them." 

To be sure, in pulling the composition book 
out of his desk, he upset his bottle of drawing 
ink, which ran all over his arithmetic, earning 
him two demerits the next morning. But 
Harry was not discouraged. He tore out his 
composition, put it into his pocket and actually 
learned the first two resolutions before recess 
the next day. Unfortunately, his resolutions 
didn't cover all the bad things a small boy may 
do with the best intentions in the world, and 
during the play hour, while "shying stones" at 
no place in particular, he managed to hit and 
disable one of Mrs. Fridus's pet hens. This was 
bad enough; but when Harry broke one of the 
kitchen windows during a ball game the next 
morning, afterwards upsetting the gravy at 
supper and ending the day with a fight with Jake, 
he decided that there wasn't any use in trying 
to reform. He was meant to be bad and a hun- 
dred Roh Hashonah resolutions couldn't help 
him to keep out of trouble and sail along as 



32 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

easily as Max. Even if lie had to write a new 
composition, he wasn't going to be silly enough 
to pass in such rubbish as he had written a 
few days before. 

He pulled the page of resolutions from his 
pocket, crumpled them into a loose wad and 
flung- them toward the waste basket. They fell 
upon the floor, but Harry, wilfully ignoring the 
rule that no papers were to be thrown upon the 
schoolroom floor, strolled out to the playground. 
But he did not join the others in their game of 
stoop-tag. Instead he sat upon the steps and 
stared gloomily at a post-card he had received 
that morning. It was a picture of the public 
library and upon the back of it Sarah had 
written, "From your loving sister." Just that 
and nothing more! Harry felt more aggrieved 
than ever. He hadn't bothered to write to her, 
but then Sarah wasn't half so busy as he was, 
and, anyhow, letter writing was a girl's job. 
But this was all she had written since going to 
her new home just a single line without even 
telling him she was lonely. Harry told him- 
self fiercely that he would keep at least one of 
his despised resolutions : he certainly would not 
be foolish enough to miss Sarah. 

That evening Miss Herman sat in Mr. Fridus' 
office going over the monthly reports of the 
children under her charge. The superintendent 



A NEW PAGE 33 

raised his eyebrows as lie passed one of the re- 
port cards across the table. "Whatever have 
you been doing to Harry Mannheimer?" he 
asked her, with a half smile. "I put him in your 
division in June because I thought you might 
be the one person around here to do something 
with him. But now he has lower marks and 
more demerits than at the beginning of the 
summer." 

"I wanted to speak to you about Harry," an- 
swered Miss Herman very seriously. "He's 
one of the best boys here yes, even with an 
awful report card like that. Only he doesn't 
fit in as he should. We've made a lot of round 
holes for our children here, but Harry happens 
to be built square and sticks out at the corners." 

"Well, we can't build a square hole just for 
him," laughed the superintendent. 

"You wouldn't have to, if he lived in a real 
home. The boy needs a lot of extra care and 
petting and he doesn't get it here. He's been 
acting like a regular little demon this last 
week, but it's not his fault. In the first place, 
he just naturally falls into mischief; and then 
he's out of sorts and lonely because he misses 
his sister." 

"I don't believe it. He was always torment- 
ing and teasing her," objected Mr. Fridus. 

"I found this paper this afternoon," Miss 



34 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Herman told him, as she took a piece of crum- 
pled paper from her portfolio. "It was lying 
near the waste basket and I happened to glance 
at it before I threw it away. Now, don't you 
think he misses Sarah?" she asked triumphantly 
as Mr. Fridus finished reading the queer list 
of "resolutions," his face growing rather tender 
at the boy's resolve not to feel homesick for 
his sister. "She's the only relative he has and 
I know he misses her petting even if he used 
to laugh at it. I told you it was wrong to 
separate them!" 

"But Sarah has such a lovely home," objected 
Mr. Fridus. 

"Yes; but we're robbing Harry of his little 
sister. And I don't believe she's happy either." 
Miss Herman rose and began to gather up her 
cards and papers with her usual energy. "I'm 
going to call on Mrs. Stern to-morrow and tell 
her all about it. They can afford to adopt 
a half dozen children if they want to, and there's 
no reason they shouldn't take Harry." 

"It won't do you a bit of good to see her," 
warned the superintendent. "She told me " 

"Well, just wait until I get through with 
her," smiled Harry's teacher. 

She was smiling the next day when Mrs. 
Stern insisted that she didn't want to adopt 
another orphan, especially a boy. "I don't like 



A NEW PAGE ' 35 

boys and Sarah, is all the company I need," she 
answered Miss Herman's plea for Harry and his 
sister. '^Really, Miss Herman, you are very 
foolish to worry about Sarah; she is very well 
satisfied an3 as soon as she gets over her first 
spell of homesickness, she'll be all right." 

"Then she has been homesick !" 

"A little. That's why I haven't allowed her 
to write to Harry or go to see him. She's such 
a sensitive little thing, you know. Only he's 
not likely to be lonely. Mr. Fridus told us all 
about him: such a rough, lively boy wouldn't 
miss her after the first day or two." 

"Mr. Fridus didn't tell you everything about 
Harry," answered Miss Herman. Flushing in 
her earnestness, she went on to tell several 
stories about the bad boy of the school, whom 
she didn't consider so very bad after all, just 
lively and too inclined to chafe against the 
many restrictions of the Home. "He's a dear 
little fellow, but he needs a lot of loving the 
kind you could give him," ended Miss Herman 
artfully. "And he's lonelier than ever now that 
Sarah is away." She dropped the Rosh Hash- 
onah composition into Mrs. Stem's lap. "I 
think he wrote it for a class exercise and then 
threw it away ; I suppose he was ashamed of it. 
But don't you think that a boy who really tries 
so hard to be good is worth giving a home? And 
as for missing Sarah " 



36 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"The poor little fellow!" Mrs. Stern inter- 
rupted, glancing up from the scrawled sen- 
tences with misty eyes. "Mr. Stern tried to 
persuade me to take Mm when we adopted 
Sarah, but I suppose I never took the trouble 
to think how much it would mean to the chil- 
dren to be separated. And the dear little 
girl has been too shy to talk to me about him." 
She considered for a moment. "I'll speak to 
Mr. Stern tonight, and if he agrees with me, 
we'll talk it over with Mr. Fridus. Only don't 
say anything to the children ; it is no use to dis- 
appoint them, is it?" 

"I'm sure they wont be disappointed," Miss 
Herman laughed happily. 

It was Kosh Hashonah morning. Harry 
feeling uncomfortably clean and "primped up" 
in his holiday suit and new shirt, sat between 
Jake and Max for the children's services. Glan- 
cing sideways during the singing, he could see 
Sarah who had come in with her new parents 
just before the opening prayer. As he was 
already seated with his class, she could do noth- 
ing but smile a tremulous greeting to him 
before she slipped into her old place with the 
little girls of her class. Miss Herman's quick 
eyes had noticed that the child looked pale 
and considerably thinner than when she left 
the Home. But Harry only saw that she was 



A NEW PAGE 37 

dressed as beautifully as a little girl in a picture 
book ; her white embroidered dress and hat with 
long ribbons made him wonder bitterly whether 
she hadn't come back for the Rosh Hashonah 
services just to show her new clothes. He re- 
fused to smile back at her whenever he caught 
her glance and relieved his feelings by sticking 
pins in Max, who, believing that Jake was the 
offender, kept glancing reproachfully at Harry's 
old enemy. 

But after a while Harry threw away his pin 
and actually listened to what Mr. Fridus was 
saying. He explained the story that one of the 
older boys had just read in Hebrew and Harry 
who was never tired of hearing how Abraham 
was about to sacrifice his only son, became so 
interested that he was almost sorry when the 
story was over and the children turned their 
faces toward the choir loft, eager to hear the 
sound of the Shofar. Harry's heart thrilled 
at the long quivering trumpet notes. He wanted 
to be like those old Hebrew soldiers, who Mr. 
Fridus had told the children, gathered to defend 
their camp at the sound of the trumpet. Some- 
how, although he didn't know just why, he felt 
strangely quiet and reverent as Mr. Fridus put 
the Sefer Torah back into the Ark and drew the 
white curtains before it. It made him think of 
the great Book Mr. Fridus had said was just 



38 

closed, the Book filled with the deeds of men for 
the past year. There was a new Book spread 
out before God to write out everybody's deeds, 
good and bad, Mr. Fridus had added, and today 
the Book showed a blank page. Harry wanted 
to begin the record right, he told himself, but 
there didn't seem to be any use in trying to do 
the right thing. Even Miss Herman thought he 
was a bad boy and he knew that Sarah didn't 
care for him any more. 

Yet it seemed that he didn't care for Sarah, 
either, when she ran to him after services and 
kissed him happily right before all the other 
girls and boys. He frowned fiercely and, as he 
caught Jake's teasing grin, made up his mind 
to settle with him as soon as he could. And he 
continued to scowl even when Mr. Stern asked 
him to come home with them for dinner ; anyhow, 
thought Harry, they might have asked me on a 
regular day "when I wouldn't miss anything 
here not when we have ice cream for dinner." 
He remained sulky and silent until they reached 
the house, although he secretly enjoyed every 
minute of his ride in the smoothly gliding ma- 
chine ; he refused to brighten at dinner although 
there was chocolate ice cream for dessert. Per- 
haps he kept thinking how hard it would be to 
go back to the Home again, where instead of 
being a petted guest he was only one of three 



A NEW PAGE 39 

hundred boys and girls, all of whom seemed to 
get along better than he did. He did not dare 
to picture how lonely he would be there with no 
Sarah to smile across the table and ask him if 
he wanted more cake. 

But Mr. Stern understood. After dinner, in 
spite of Sarah's protests that she wanted to 
come along, he took Harry about the grounds, 
showing him the greenhouses, which didn't 
interest him much, the garage with the three 
shining cars and the stables. Then Harry for- 
got his shyness and gave a cry of delight as he 
bounded into the stall where Sarah's brown and 
white pony etood. He threw his arms about 
the pretty creature's neck and snuggled his face 
against its mane. "I like horses," he told Mr. 
Stern," but I never had a chance to be with 'em. 
And I like rabbits, too. I was saving up for a 
pair of 'em but I never got ahead 'cause Mr. 
Fridus was always keeping back my spending 
money for breaking windows and things. Only 
I guess I wouldn't have had a good place to 
keep rabbits, anyhow." 

"I thought of getting some rabbits for Sarah," 
Mr. Stern told him. 'TBut I don't know whether 
she would know how to take good care of them. 
It takes a man to understand live stock, don't 
you think so?" Harry nodded gravely. "But 
you could help Sarah look after her pets, espec- 



40 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

ially the pony, every day after school. I've 
spoken to Mr. Fridus and he says he's going 
to let you stay with us for awhile. Think you'd 
like it? 

"Yes, sir," was all the boy said but his face 
glowed at the thought. 

"He didn't say much," Mr. Stem told his 
wife later that afternoon, "but I think the 
visit is going to mean a great deal to him. I 
wish," wistfully, "you wouldn't think a boy 
about the place too much trouble. I'd like to 
have him for more than a visit." 

"I think we'll want to keep him for a very 
long visit," answered his wife. "Sarah's been 
a real comfort to me and it ought to be just 
twice as nice to adopt twins!" 

Meanwhile Sarah was rejoicing over the 
prospect of even a visit from her brother. 
"And, maybe," she told him happily, "maybe 
papa and mama will keep you here just as 
they did me. Won't that be nice?" 

"Perhaps," answerd her brother, trying to 
speak indifferently. He felt that he couldn't 
tell even Sarah how much he wanted to live 
in a real home with a jolly person, like Mr. Stern 
for a father. 

"It's been just the nicest Rosh Hashonah I've 
ever had," went on Sarah, "and if you only 
didn't have to go away again " 



A NEW PAGE 41 

"It would be sort of nice to begin living here 
today," admitted her brother. "It'd be just 
like well, just like starting a new page in your 
composition book. I think I'd like Mr. Stern 
a lot; he said he'd think about taking me 
hunting sometime. And I suppose I'd get used 
to Mrs. Stern even if she is fussy and like to 
live with her, too." 

"And wouldn't you like to live here and see 
me every day?" Sarah asked a trifle jealously. 

"I suppose so, as long as you didn't bother me 
to death the way you used to at the Home," 
answered her brother. "And I'd certainly be 
tickled to death to feed that pony every day. 
I bet Jake would never get over it if he could 
see me riding her !" 



A BIG MISTAKE 

A Yom Kippur Story 

When Isadore Bergman graduated from gram- 
mer school, he planned to enter high school in 
the fall. Like many other fourteen year old boys, 
he had his future carefully planned and it was 
a rosy one. He would prepare himself for col- 
lege, he thought, take a course in engineering 
and in a few years be building bridges in South 
America or China. It would be very lonely for 
his father who was a widower and had no other 
children; but Isadore decided that he would 
soon earn enough to take a real vacation and 
"show father a good time." Then his father 
would give up his position in the factory and 
the two would take a trip around the world, 
having no end of adventures, from shooting lions 
in Africa to fighting pirates on the South Seas. 
He did not tell all of these ambitions to his 
quiet, hard-working father, for, although the 
two were more like brothers than father and 
son, Isadore was a trifle afraid Mr. Bergman 
might laugh at his extravagant plans, and con- 
tented himself with hinting of "a rest and good 
times for you, dad, when I'm through college." 

43 



44 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

j 

But Isadore never even entered high school. 
His father was severely injured while working 
at his machine; there were hospital and doctor 
bills which seemed to devour the little sum in 
the savings bank; and, toward the end of the 
summer, Isadore found himself with a bedridden 
father to support providing he could find work. 

It was not easy for the boy fresh from gram- 
mar school to find a position. He was too young 
for one thing and had no business expe- 
rience. Besides there seemed to be a dozen boys 
for every vacancy. Again and again Isadore 
would hurry from one end of the city to the 
other in answer to an advertisement in the 
"Help Wanted" column to be met with the same 
discouraging information: "The position is 
filled." It was hard enough to hunt a situation 
all day ; it was harder still to go home at night 
and chat cheerfully with his father as he pre- 
pared his supper and cleaned the two poor 
rooms to which they had moved after their mis- 
fortune. "But I'll get something worth while 
tomorrow, see if I don't," Isadore never failed 
to end cheerfully, while his father would always 
answer with the same heartiness: "I'm sure 
you'll get just the sort of position you're looking 
for, son!" 

But when Isadore finally found a situation, 
it was about the last one he would have chosen 



A BIG MISTAKE 45 

for himself. Under the most favorable circum- 
stances it would have been very hard for the 
boy to give up his plans for study and all the 
delightful activities of high school life to work 
eight hours a day in the stuffy basement of 
Barton's department store. He would have 
found the business discipline irksome enough, 
to say nothing of his loneliness for his old 
schoolmates, many of whom intended to enter 
high school in the fall; but what irritated him 
more than the long hours and the uncongenial 
atmosphere was the attitude of Mike Dorian, 
the superintendent. 

"I hate him," Isadore told Ms father sullenly. 
"He isn't fair to me because I'm a Jew. I wish 
I could work in another department where he 
couldn't pick on me from morning till night." 

"That's a pretty poor way to start in busi- 
ness," warned his father. "Maybe you just 
imagine that Mr. Dorian doesn't like you." 

"Imagine!" Isadore fairly snorted in his in- 
dignation. "Why, he's been picking on me ever 
since I got the job. If he's got any extra work 
around the place, it's up to me to do it; if 
there's a single mistake made all day in the 
hardware department, he always calls me down 
without waiting to see who's to blame. I 
wouldn't mind so much if it was just because 
he didn't like me; but it gets me mad to have 



46 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Mm nag at me all the time just because I'm a 
Jew and he seems to be the sort of fellow who 
hates a Jew like poison." 

"If I were you," advised Mr. Bergman, "I'd 
do my work so well that he'd have to change 
his opinion of our people, even if he didn't 
like Jews. Though you may imagine he's 
prejudiced, I've known a great many Jews who 
were so thin-skinned that they always expected 
to be insulted on account of their religion. 
And usually they weren't disappointed! Just 
stop going around nursing a grudge, Isadore, 
and you'll not have any trouble with your 
manager." 

Isadore remained unconvinced. He felt that 
his father knew nothing of the situation, that if 
he did, he wouldn't blame him for being thor- 
oughly miserable. Disappointed and discour- 
aged, Isadore was inclined to be unusually 
sensitive and critical. He even hated the other 
boys In his department, most of them were older 
and so much more experienced in business that 
they could not resist teasing him for what 
they called his "greenness." But most of all he 
hated Michael Dorian, the burly, loud-voiced 
Irishman, who bellowed orders through the long 
hot August days and seemed to direct his harsh- 
est criticisms at Isadore's aching head. 

"You careless young Jew, you!" Dorian had 



A BIG MISTAKE 47 

roared at Isadore during the first week when 
the boy had carefully stacked a huge pile of 
boxes on the wrong shelf. "Why can't you show 
some sense?" He had passed on raging, while 
several of Isadore's fellow-workers giggled 
softly. Isadore turned scarlet and longed to 
answer him, only restrained by the thought that 
his father depended upon the meager salary 
Barton paid him and he had to keep his place. 
But the words rankled for he felt that his re- 
ligion had been ridiculed and any reproof or 
criticism that came from Dorian seemed to 
Isadore to come from a Jew-hater and struck 
Mm as entirely unjust. 

Hosh Hashonah came and Isadore who had 
never attended school on the Jewish holidays 
stayed home from the store, taking it for 
granted that Mr. Dorian would understand why 
he was absent. But when he returned to work, 
he was disagreeably surprised to have the man- 
ager greet him sharply: ''Well, are you ready 
to quit loafing and settle down on the job?" 

"I wasn't loafing and I had to stay home," 
Isadore answered, rather curtly. 

"Suppose you had to go to your grandmother's 
funeral with a ball game afterward," chuckled 
Dorian with a wink at several of the older 
clerks who grinned dutifully at their superior's 
ancient joke. 



48 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Isadora's cheeks burned. He had often 
heard Dorian joking in his loud coarse manner 
with the other boys and they hadn't seemed to 
mind ; but just then he felt he could not endure 
hearing this man make sport of his religion. 

"My father was sick and he needed me," he 
lied desperately. He knew Dorian would accept 
his excuse, for the friend who had secured the 
place for Isadore had told the manager of Mr. 
Bergman's accident and at that moment he felt 
that anything was better than to have Dorian 
sneer at him for observing the holidays of his 
faith. 

The twinkle faded from Dorian's eye and a 
hard look crept about his heavy mouth. He 
looked sharply at Isadore, but the boy's eyes 
were turned away and he did not catch the 
manager's keen look of disappointment, or was 
it disgust? Dorian was silent for a moment; 
when he spoke his voice was louder and harsher 
than ever. "You'd better decide pretty soon 
whether you're going to work for me or play 
nurse to your father," he almost shouted. "I'm 
not going to 'dock' you this time, but the next 
time you want to take a day off, you'll have to 
hunt a better excuse." 

He blustered off, leaving Isadore to stare after 
him, hating him more than ever. The boy 
brooded over the incident in sullen silence, for 



A BIG MISTAKE 49 

he did not mention the matter at home, realizing 
that it was useless to worry his father. And 
now as Yom Kippur drew near, he grew more 
worried and uncertain for he realized bitterly 
how impossible it would be to explain matters 
to Dorian, to ask permission to remain away 
from work on that day. He laughed grimly at 
the thought; Dorian, the Jew-hater, giving him, 
a day off to observe a Jewish holiday! He'd 
likely not only "dock" him but tell him to leave 
at the end of the week. Isadore felt a little 
sick at the thought. He knew only too well 
that work for a young boy was anything but 
plentiful ; he knew, too, that he could not afford 
to lose even a week's wages while hunting for 
another position. 

"I'm sorry I can't go to schul with you this 
year, Isadore," said his father a few days before 
Yom Kippur. "It will be the first time you've 
had to go alone to the Kol Mdre service." 

Isadore shifted uneasily in his chair. He had 
washed the supper dishes and now sat with his 
elbows leaning on the table, staring gloomily at 
the carpet. "I'll go to the Kol Mdre as long 
as it's at -night," he stammered, "but I don't 
see how I can get away all day Thursday." 

"But the other Jewish boys in your depart- 
ment?" 

"There aren't anv. And I bet old Dorian 



50 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

wouldn't let them off, anyhow. He hates us 
Jews, the old slave-driver; and I hate him," 
he ended fiercely. 

"Isadore!" Mr. Bergman's voice had grown 
unusually stern. "It wont do you much good 
to go to schul on Yom Kippur to fast and pray 
for forgiveness for yourself, if you hate your 
enemy or anyone you are bound to make your 
enemy. And, of course, you will stay away 
from work on Yom Kippur. I'll be sorry if 
they 'dock' you for the day, for we can't afford 
to lose a penny, but it can't be helped." And 
Isadore realized that so far as his father was 
concerned, the matter was settled. All night 
he tossed in his bed and thumped his pillow; 
by morning he had made his decision and was 
no longer excited and disturbed. 

It was hard for Isadore to sit through the 
Kol Nidre services for his muscles ached from 
his long day's work and he felt even more un- 
comfortable in mind than in body. He felt a 
hypocrite as he turned the pages of his prayer 
book; what was the use of attending Jewish 
services and reciting Hebrew prayers, when only 
a few days before he had lied to Dorian, ashamed 
to confess that he cared enough for his religion 
to observe the holy days of his people! And 
tomorrow he would do something even more 
shameful, lie to his father who had always 



A BIG MISTAKE 51 

trusted Mm. For Isadore had decided to go to 
work as usual, telling his father that he was 
attending the Yom Kippur service. 

He was bending over his stock the next morn- 
ing, duster in hand, when Michael Dorian came 
down the aisle. He stopped on the other side 
of the counter, looking over the boy with sharp 
questioning eyes. "Why did you come down to 
work this morning?" he asked at last. 

Isadore did not answer. Flushing guiltily he 
etood silent, his fingers tearing nervously at the 
feathers of his duster. 

"I heard it was a Jew-holiday," Dorian con- 
tinued after a moment, a rather unpleasant 
smile about his heavy mouth. "Funny you 
didn't have to stay home funny your father 
doesn't need you again." 

All the resentment of the hard, bitter weeks 
forced Isadore to speak, no matter what it might 
cost him. "My father does need me," he said 
hotly. "He needs every dollar I can earn for 
him. That's why I've listened to your nagging 
and your jokes about my religion. And that's 
why I'm working on Yom Kippur and lying to 
him about it, too. My father needs my salary 
and I. didn't want to lose my job." 

"Who said you'd lose your job?" 

"Aren't you always picking on me for being 
a Jew? Wouldn't you fire me if I stayed out 



52 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

to keep a Jewish holiday? When I stayed out 
the last time you said " 

"Sure." Dorian nodded emphatically, thump- 
ing the counter with his broad fist. "I wanted 
to make you feel small and I guess I did it all 
right. Don't you suppose I knew it was a Jew- 
ish feast of something, with my best neighbor, 
Mr. Kosenberg, on the floor above, getting yom 
tov clothes, as he calls 'em, for his wife and 
kids and taking them to church! And I had 
my opinion of you when you came and lied to 
me like that and I felt like firing you on the 
spot. But I knew how hard up your dad was 
and didn't like to turn you out, though you've 
been making me pretty sore with that long face 
of yours. But what do you mean, anyhow," he 
demanded with sudden anger, "by saying that 
I got it in for Jews, when Abe Rosenberg and 
I are like brothers, and Dave Goodman, my best 
friend since I came to America, is a Jew, too!" 

Isadore faltered. "But you called me a 'care- 
less Jew' and " 

"All right. Next time I'll call you a careless 
Chinaman, if you're that touchy. So that's why 
you've been making a face every time I spoke 
to you. Suppose I'm not polite enough, eh? 
Well, any of the fellows around here '11 tell you 
it's just Mike Dorian's way. And I will say 
you're getting to be a good worker, only why 



A BIG MISTAKE 53 

did you go and lie to me like that last week 
about staying home? Ashamed of your relig- 
ion?" 

"No, sir. But I just couldn't bear to have 
you laughing at it and I thought " 

"The trouble was you didn't think." Dorian 
grasped Isadore by the shoulders and swung 
him around toward the locker rooms. "Hand 
me your duster," he commanded, "and put on 
your hat and go off and pray for me and your 
dad." He began to flap vigorously along the 
shelves. <f Well, and what are you waiting for 
now?" 

"I I'm afraid I've not been fair to you," 
Isadore stammered, f< but I didn't understand." 

Dorian's blue eyes twinkled good humoredly. 
"Maybe I'll teach you a little about understand- 
ing the insides of folks," he promised, "while 
I'm teaching you how to keep stock. Now hurry 
along to your church and don't stop to play 
marbles on the way. They always begin early, 
my friend Kosenberg says, and he ought to 
know." 



HIS OWN SUCCAH 

A Snccoth Story 

"And the children of Israel built booths for 
themselves," continued Miss Feldman, "and they 
lived in them eight days. Who can tell me 
what we call these booths?" 

A dozen eager hands shot up into the air. 
"Yes, Max?" 

"A succah!" 

"That's right. Now, how many of you chil- 
dren ever ate in a succah?" The teacher looked 
over the primary class and smiled to see the 
forest of waving hands, while a number of shrill 
voices added details: 

"My grandpa always fixed ours!" ^We had a 
big lamp and " "I hung up the grapes." 

"Not so noisy, children ! Now, I'm going to 
tell you all about the first succahs they built 
in the wilderness, and when you eat in your own 
succahs next week I want you to remember the 
story. So sit back and fold your hands and 
listen." 

Thirty youngsters leaned back in their little 
chairs; thirty pairs of hands folded themselves 
in their owners' laps ; thirty pairs of eyes turned 

55 



56 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

toward "teacher" who plunged at once into a 
description of the long journey in the wilder- 
ness. Twenty-nine pairs of eyes, to be exact, 
for Harold Jacobson sat staring at the tips of 
his Sunday shoes, his brow creased with thought, 
careless of the trials of the early Israelites, as 
he tried to solve his own personal problems. 

How was he to have a succah? he was asking 
himself. Harold was seven, but until a few 
weeks ago he had never known that there was 
such a holiday as Succoth or that some Jews 
ate in a booth of boughs for eight days every 
autumn. For there had never been any holiday 
observances in Harold's home and he had had 
no Jewish playmates until his parents had 
moved the spring before into the neighborhood 
where they now lived. This year he had at- 
tended Sabbath School for the first time and 
had become acquainted with Leonard and Robert 
Rubel, twin brothers with a wondenful mother 
who was always inviting their little friends to 
supper, and who never seemed too busy to en- 
tertain her young guests with games and stories. 
And Mrs. Rubel always managed to keep the 
Jewish holidays in such a delightful way that 
Leonard and Kobert found it hard to decide 
whether they liked Succoth or Channukah or 
Purim best they were all so jolly and mother 
made them nicer every year. 



HIS OWN SUCCAH 57 

"You mean to say that you don't eat in a 
succah !" Robert had exclaimed as the three boys 
walked home from Sabbath school the previous 
Sunday. <r Why, I thought all Jews did. It's 
just great, and everything tastes better out 
there, and we always use an old silver cup my 
grandfather had for the wine, and mother tells 
us the finest stories better than Miss Feldman, 
even if she is a Sunday school teacher. Say, 
Leonard, isn't it funny his folks don't have a 
euccah like ours?" 

"Maybe you can come and have supper with 
us the first night," suggested Leonard. "Moth- 
er'll be awfully sorry you haven't got one of 
your own. Last year she asked father's two 
cousins, 'cause they were away from home and 
couldn't have any and she felt sorry for them." 
But Harold's quick pride was touched. "My 
mother was pretty busy last year," he explained, 
hastily, "so we couldn't do much for Succoth. 
But this year I'm sure we'll have one." 

He thought about it all that week and now 
as he sat in his little red chair surrounded by 
his classmates, his heart was very heavy. Over 
half the class had raised their hands when Miss 
Feldman asked whether they had eaten in suc- 
cah s. So many of the boys seemed to have had 
one, even if they weren't rich like Leonard and 
Robert. Why, even Myer Davidson had raised 



58 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

his hand with the rest, and Myer's people were 
poor and lived above their store and Myer often 
wore shabby clothes to Sabbath school. Then 
why would he have to eat his meals at the 
dining room table when so many of the boys 
and girls ate theirs in a succah? 

Harold felt very unhappy as he walked home 
with his two friends, but he felt that he could 
not tell Leonard and Robert what troubled him. 
They might pity him, he feared, and he hated 
to be pitied. Perhaps, if it wasn't too much 
trouble, his mother might be coaxed into making 
him a succah after all. Usually he could coax 
anything he wanted out of his mother, if he 
kept at it long enough; unless his father said 
"no," which always ended his hopes. And he 
knew it was no use to appeal to Ms father, for 
Mr. Jacobson was always too busy or too tired 
out or too occupied with his paper when he 
came home from the office to talk to his son. 

It was not without much stumbling and hesi- 
tation that Harold mentioned the subject that 
day at dinner. "Do you know it's almost Suc- 
coth, mama?" he asked, as soon as the soup 
was served. 

"Is it?" asked his mother languidly. t( Want 
some crackers?" 

"Yes'm. And Miss Peldman told us how peo- 
ple eat in succahs. She told us all about it. 



HIS OWN SUCCAH 59 

Next Wednesday a lot of Jewish people are go- 
ing to have a succah and Bob and Leonard are 
going to have one, too." 

'Isn't that nice?" murmured Mrs. Jacobson. 
Then, turning to her husband: "By the way, 
Ike, did I tell you that the Delson's are going 
to have their anniversary dinner Wednesday 
night and we're invited?" 

"I suppose you accepted." 

"Certainly. Harold, why don't you finish 
your soup?" 

"I'm going to. But can we have a succah 
Wednesday?" 

"Didn't you just hear mama say that she 
was going out?" 

"But we've never had a succah!" 

"And we don't intend to have one." This 
from his father. "We're living in the twentieth 
century, young man. None of that old-fashioned 
superstition for us. Now, eat your dinner and 
be quiet." 

"Yes, sir." The boy's tone was submissive, 
but the look in his eyes did not escape his 
mother. She scented further battles on the sub- 
ject and wanted the matter settled at once. 

"I'm sure you've got everything you want," 
she argued plaintively. "Yesterday I bought 
you that new painting set you were teasing me 
for all week. I never saw a boy like you 
never satisfied!" 



60 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

The child pushed back his plate. "I'm not 
hungry," he said gravely. "I don't want any 
dinner." 

He left the room and Ms parents looked at 
each other helplessly. "I don't know what to 
do with Mm," complained Mrs. Jacobson. 'Tie 
gets the craziest notions in Ms head, and he's 
so stubborn that when he once sets his mind 
on a thing he teases me till he gets it." 

But it was not stubbornness which caused the 
little fellow to sit in Ms room, staring out of 
the window, his eyes brimming with tears. Nor 
was it entirely disappointment for he had never 
dared to hope that his parents would listen to 
him and give him what he wanted more than 
anything in the world just now, much more than 
the new painting set, which no longer meant 
anything to him. For only the evening before 
he had run to Ms father with the first of the 
pictures nicely colored, to be told brusquely: 
<r Very fine; and now go and ask your mother 
if she's ready. I'm tired of going late to the 
club every week." 

"And he never even looked at my picture," 
Harold had muttered on the way upstairs. "He 
doesn't care what I do." 

Now he was hurt by something greater than 
his father's indifference. He was a proud 
voungster and he dreaded to go back to Sabbath 



HIS OWN SUCCAH 61 

school the next week and confess that he had 
not had a succah. It would be very hard to 
have Robert and Leonard feel sorry for him. 
Suddenly a bright thought struck him; he ran 
to the table where his Sabbath school book lay, 
eagerly turning the pages until he found the 
picture Miss Feldman had "told a story about" 
to the class that very morning. It was a re- 
production of Oppenheim's famous drawing of 
a German family celebrating the harvest festi- 
val in their succah. Harold had built an Indian 
wigwam in the country the summer before. He 
nodded in a satisfied sort of way, closed the 
book, and, going over to the dresser, took his 
tin bank and shook it, smiling to himself as he 
did so. 

It was near midnight when Mr. and Mrs. 
Jacobson reached home after the Delson dinner ; 
but as they stopped in the hall to remove their 
wraps, they saw a light streaming from an inner 
room. Mrs. Jacobson frowned. "Katie is get- 
ting more careless every day. Just because I 
told her she might go out as soon as Harold 
had his supper, she left in such a hurry that 
she didn't even turn out the lights in the dining 
room." She huried away, but a moment later 
returned to her husband, a strange look upon 
her pretty, thoughtless face. "Ike," she half 
whispered, "don't say a word, but come into 



62 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the dining room." He followed her wonderingly 
and together they stood looking down at their 
son, who had fallen asleep in his chair. 

The little fellow had twisted bits of green 
tissue paper about the electric light bulbs, while 
around the table he had placed the family 
clothes horse, now hung with a green cloth and 
trimmed with branches. From the walls of 
this make-shift succah, he had fastened apples 
and oranges and one solitary bunch of grapes, 
the last looking decidedly "nibbled," as though 
Harold had been unable to wait for his supper 
until his work was finished. Upon the white 
cloth lay the remnants of the dinner Katie had 
provided for him, while a large tin measuring 
cup stood at his plate. Near his elbow lay his 
Sabbath school book and painting set he had 
colored half of the Succoth picture before fall- 
ing asleep. 

For a moment neither spoke. The little lad 
stirred restlessly, and, obeying an impulse which 
lie would have found difficult to explain even 
to himself, Mr. Jacobson bent down and kissed 
the boy before he picked him up to carry him 
to bed. Somehow he looked such a baby, curled 
up in his chair, his head resting on his arm. 

Harold opened his eyes. Half asleep, he was 
not too self-conscious, not too much in awe of 
his father, to explain his triumph. "I wanted 



HIS OWN SUCCAH 63 

to stay up and show you my succah," he smiled. 
"I bet it's nicer than Kobert's. I got the 
branches in the empty lot and I knew you 
wouldn't care, mama, if I took the green couch 
cover out of the library I didn't get it a bit 
mussed and I got the fruit with my bank 
money, and Katie gave me the cup. She said 
you'd be mad if I didn't put the stuff away 
before you came home, but you're not, are 
you?" 

"Not a bit, son. Now go to sleep," said his 
father. The child settled against his shoulder 
with a sigh of drowsy contentment. Across the 
grotesque table the eyes of his parents met in 
a long look of understanding. Unconsciously 
Mrs. Jacobson turned toward the oil painting 
of her father that hung above the mantlepiece. 
"A worthy man in Israel has left us," the rabbi 
had said at the funeral. She turned to her hus- 
band with a choking little laugh. 

"The funny kid!" She smiled uncertainly. 
"How it would have pleased father. He was 
always such a good Jew." 

"I guess," grinned Harold's father, "that the 
boy's bound to be a good Jew, too, whether we 
want him to or not." 



THE COWARD 

A Simchath Torah Story 

Ephraim had not been in America very long; 
in fact, it was just a month, since his father had 
brought him to the public school and left him 
in charge of the fair-haired, smiling young 
woman he called "Teacher." Miss Amy had 
tried to make everything easy for the shy, awk- 
ward boy, but it was hard work. For Ephraim, 
although almost ten years old, had been sent 
to one of the first grade rooms until he could 
learn English. Many of the boys in his class 
could understand Yiddish, for the school was in 
a neighborhood almost as thickly packed with 
Jews as the little village in which Ephraim was 
born; but he felt a stranger among them. Per- 
haps he realized only too well that they all con- 
sidered him a "Greenhorn," as they had either 
been born in this country or had lived in Amer- 
ica long enough to speak and understand Eng- 
lish. No wonder they gave themselves airs and 
were inclined to snicker when Ephraim stum- 
bled over the simplest words in his First Reader. 

But if the little fellows tormented Ephraim, 
the older lads were much worse. Sometimes 

65 



66 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

boys enjoy teasing one of their number whether 
he deserves it or not, especially if he doesn't 
seem to have enough spirit to fight for himself. 
Ephraim was no coward; but he was too be- 
wildered by the many strange things he saw 
and heard during his first year in an American 
public school, too ashamed of being classed with 
the youngest pupil, to try and defend himself. 
The petty tricks the boys his own age played 
upon him were hard enough; but it was even 
harder not to be invited to join in their games 
at recess or after school. To be sure, he had 
once been invited to "fill in" when a group of 
his schoolmates were playing ball in the empty 
lot across from his father's store; but he had 
been so awkward with the bat, that their hooting 
laughter drove him home, thoroughly ashamed 
of himself and determined not to join them 
again. 

His old enemies continued to torment Eph- 
raim even in Eabbi Goldstein's Cheder, where 
he went for his Hebrew lessons every day after 
school. Perhaps they disliked him here more 
than in the playground; in the Cheder he was 
no longer a "Greenhorn," an outsider to be 
laughed at for his blunders. For Ephraim had 
studied far more Hebrew than his American- 
born classmates, not only in the dingy little 
Cheder across the sea, but with his father who 



THE COWARD 67 

had been a cantor before coming to America. 
His father had also taught him to sing and was 
not a little proud to hear the boy's clear voice 
ringing out in the beautiful old melodies of the 
synagogue ; but Ephraim had grown too shy and 
self-conscious to sing in Cheder, where the boys 
soon realized that the cantor's son easily sur- 
passed the best of them in Hebrew. They 
might not have resented it if he had only been 
one of them; but it hurt their pride to have a 
boy, who came from the First Reader class in 
public school, continually petted and praised in 
Rabbi Goldstein's Cheder. If the good old man 
had only realized the situation, he might have 
made matters a little easier for his favorite; 
but Rabbi Goldstein, although a teacher for 
many years, knew much more about Hebrew 
than small boys. He was strangely unconscious 
of the fact that nearly every pupil in his school, 
from overgrown Nathan who was to be "Bar- 
mitzvah" in November, down to seven year old 
Oscar, never lost an opportunity of making life 
a burden for the "Rabbi's pet," as they came to 
call Ephraim. The boy tried to explain matters 
to his parents and begged to be allowed to leave 
Cheder; but his father did not understand. 

"You are not used to American boys yet," he 
comforted Ephraim. "If they are rough, it is 
because you do not know their ways. Just wait 



68 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

and you will make many friends and like going 
to Cheder." 

So Ephraim waited patiently, but he made no 
friends nor did he enjoy the hours he spent 
in the basement of Rabbi Goldstein's synagogue. 
Perhaps the other boys might have ceased to re- 
sent the Rabbi's favoritism and permitted his 
star pupil to live in peace, had Nathan only let 
him alone. But Nathan hated his Hebrew les- 
sons and was glad to enliven the hours he was 
forced to spend in Cheder, by teasing the new- 
comer and making him as uncomfortable as he 
himself always felt when Rabbi Goldstein threat- 
ened to tell his father that he would never be 
ready to be Barmitzvah no, not in a thousand 
years! Then the old man would often turn to 
Ephraim, and tug at his white beard and 
nod with satisfaction as the boy would fairly 
romp over the sentences that had caused Nathan 
to stumble. Which was very pleasant for Eph- 
riam until he left Cheder; then he could con- 
sider himself lucky if Nathan was content with 
cuffing him or pulling his ears or throwing his 
cap in the gutter. But often the bully of the 
Cheder would be in a really vicious mood and 
Ephraim would go home sobbing with the other 
boys' taunts of "Baby" and "Coward" ringing in 
his ears. 

"Baby" and "Coward!" These were almost 



THE COWARD 69 

the first English words he learned. He had 
come across the word, "baby" in his school 
reader and knew it meant a very little child like 
his sister Bessie ; but he had been obliged to ask 
Teacher what "coward" meant. She did not un- 
derstand the motive for his question, but she 
could see that the boy was troubled and tried 
to make her answer very clear to him. 

"A coward is a man or boy who isn't brave," 
she told him, speaking very slowly for she feared 
to confuse him with too many new words. She 
considered for a moment, while Ephraim leaned 
against her desk admiring her bright hair and 
wondering why his mother didn't wear pretty 
blue ribbons around her neck and waist. It 
was recess and the big room was empty; Eph- 
raim felt that he would like to come to school 
to Miss Amy forever if the other boys would 
only stay in the playground. "You know about 
David in the Bible?" she asked at last. He 
nodded. "David was a brave boy. But he would 
have been a coward if he had run away from the 
giant instead of fighting him." 

"Oh a boy who won't fight is a coward," con- 
cluded Ephraim. 

Teacher laughed and felt she must begin all 
over again. "No. Sometimes it's a very bad 
thing to fight. You remember how I had to send 
Reuben home the other day for fighting in the 



70 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

hall?" Ephraim nodded. "But a boy ie a 
coward when he runs away in time of danger." 
She indicated the picture above her desk, Wash- 
ington crossing the Delaware. "I'm always tell- 
ing you boys how brave George Washington 
was. I'm sure he wasn't always fighting with 
the other boys like Reuben ; but when he had to 
fight for our country and our flag, he wasn't 
afraid and never thought of running away. Now 
you see what 'coward' and 'brave' mean, don't 
you?" 

Ephraim nodded vigorously. "George Wash- 
ington was a brave man," he said, looking up 
at the picture with shining eyes. "He carried 
the good flag and he wouldn't let anybody hurt 
it. But Jewish people haven't a flag like the 
red, white and blue one to fight for and wave 
when they march the way the soldiers did the 
other day." Suddenly his face brightened. 
"Yes, we have, too, teacher!" he told her, de- 
lighted that his people need not be behind even 
the Americans with their Washington and their 
flag. "On Simchath Torah, that comes next 
week in our schul, on Simchath Torah the boys 
in our Cheder make flags and carry them 
around. And the Rabbi will carry the Torah 
that's a big roll of Hebrew with a red cover," 
he explained, "and he'll hold it like a flag and 
we'll all march after him. That's a flag, too, 



THE COWARD 71 

isn't it?" he asked a little anxiously, for he 
wasn't sure whether he was just right in the 
matter. 

"I think that's the finest sort of flag," teacher 
told him, "and the Jewish people are the brav- 
est people in the world. They've been called 
'cowards' a great many times and some people 
think they are afraid to fight just because they 
haven't regular armies with guns and flags. 
But your Hebrew roll the rabbi carries, is the 
flag they've been fighting for all these years, 
just the way Washington fought for our Amer- 
ican flag. And now tell me why you wanted 
to know what 'coward' meant?" She asked cu- 
riously, but Ephraim was silent. 

When Nathan taunted Ephraim that after- 
noon, the old jeers had no power to hurt him. 
"I'm not a coward even if I won't fight with 
him," thought the boy. "I'd be just as brave 
as as George Washington, if I got the chance." 
Yet even his talk with teacher did not keep 
him from feeling extremely miserable and lonely 
the next day, when Rabbi Goldstein excused the 
boys from their Hebrew lessons and allowed 
them to make flags for the procession in the 
synagogue on Simchath Torah. The other boys 
chattered merrily as they whittled flag staves 
or slashed at the pieces of bright cambric upon 
which they pasted all sorts of designs. Many 



72 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

of the pupils made their flags exactly like the 
blue and white banner of their Zionist club, 
with stripes of white and blue and a great star ; 
others pasted gilt lions on theirs, copied after 
the lions on either side of the Ark in the syna- 
gogue; little Harry Kothschild, whose skillful 
fingers earned him the highest mark in drawing 
in Public School, chose a yellow background 
on which he painted what the pupils considered 
a truly wonderful likeness of a man with a 
crown and a harp, evidently King David. No 
one cared to see what design Ephraim followed, 
nor would any of the boys have understood why 
he cut out and pasted on his flag a rude, red 
scroll, bearing a faint resemblance to the Torah. 
He took it home with him and felt a little more 
cheerful when his father and mother admired 
his work ; but he felt very homesick as he remem- 
bered Simchath Torah last year in the little 
Cheder across the sea. He had had so many 
friends in the procession of boys carrying their 
banners and lighted tapers; this year, even if 
his mates wouldn't dare to tease him with their 
fathers and mothers looking on, it would be 
hard to feel that not one of them wanted him 
for a friend, that they all shared Nathan's 
opinion and thought him a coward, merely 
because he never fought back when they tor- 
mented him. 



THE COWARD 73 



It was Simchath Torah morning at last. 
Every seat in Eabbi Goldstein's synagogue was 
filled; on the main floor sat the men and boys 
who were already "Bar Mitzvah" and had been 
called up to read the Torah; in the gallery 
were the mothers and girls and the very young 
children. For eight days they had eaten in 
their succahs and praised God for His harvest, 
although there were no longer farmers in the 
land of Israel, nor did they gather the crops of 
which they sang. But today they offered up 
thanks for the treasure of their fathers which 
they still possessed and cherished, their Torah; 
they had read from it throughout the year and 
now on this day, set apart for "Rejoicing in the 
Law," they read the last chapter and began to 
read their sacred book anew. Every face was 
bright with happiness; but perhaps no one "re- 
joiced" in the Torah quite so much as the small 
boys, who during the year seldom found happi- 
ness in learning to read from it. Now they 
stood in their school room off the synagogue, 
holding their gaily colored banners, some of 
them with sticks upon which they had placed 
lighted candles for torches. It seemed a long 
time to the impatient lads before Rabbi Gold- 
stein, looking very tall and impressive in his 
long blue and white talith and carrying the 
Torah in his arms, came to the door and beck- 



74 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 



oned them to follow him. Then they went down 
the aisles after him, carrying their flags and 
torches, singing somewhat uproariously the song 
they had learned in Cheder. As they passed be- 
tween the rows of worshippers, the men leaped 
out, kissing the red coverings of the Torah, push- 
ing each other aside like eager boys as they 
struggled to be first to touch the Law. 

Ephraim's eyes sparkled and his cheeks glowed 
as he sang with all his might. He felt like 
a real soldier marching in a great procession 
after his captain. For the first time it meant 
something to be "head boy" in Cheder, for on 
account of his high rank in class, Eabbi Gold- 
stein had allowed him to follow directly after 
the Torah. And he couldn't help being just 
a little glad that Nathan was hulking far be- 
hind with the younger boys at the end of the 
line. For once he was the leader and didn't 
have to be afraid of the boy who called him 
coward and incited the other boys to torment 
him. 

Suddenly the loose talith of one of the old 
men, who had bent over to touch the Torah as 
it passed, caught the lighted candle that little 
Oscar carried. A woman in the gallery saw the 
blaze and shouted "Fire," and, although one of 
the men caught the shawl and beat out the 
flames with his hands, the dreadful cry, "Fire! 



THE COWARD 75 

Fire!" was repeated on every side. The women 
and children dashed down the steep stairway 
leading from the gallery; the boys in the pro- 
cession crowded this way and that, some of 
them trying to escape through the schoolroom 
in the rear, others pushing forward to reach the 
front door, while the men and older boys, 
carried away by the general panic, sprang from 
their seats and tried to force their way through 
the narrow aisle, already choked with the 
frightened Cheder pupils. 

In the mad stampede that had followed the 
first alarm, little Ephraim would have been 
swept off his feet, had he not clung desperately 
to the arm of the tall rabbi struggling be- 
fore him, the Torah raised high above his 
head. Then a mad rush from the seats over- 
powered the old man and he fell to the ground. 

The Torah was large and heavy, but as it fell 
Ephraim caught it and held it high above his 
head, as he had seen the rabbi do a moment be- 
fore. He was glad now that he was not trou- 
bled with a torch to carry and he recklessly 
threw his precious flag aside. For he felt 
that now he carried the real flag and that he 
must not let it be trampled under foot. As 
Rabbi Goldstein fell, old Mr. Feldman, the 
shammas, gave a cry of horror and tried to 
raise the aged man to his feet. Several others 



76 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

assisted him and as they struggled to keep back 
the crowd, seething about the fallen man, one 
of the older boys pulled Ephraim to a bench 
beside him. A mad hope stirred in the boy's 
heart. He knew only too well that though there 
was no further danger from fire, unless some 
of his class mates dropped their torches, many 
people would be injured if the crowd could not 
be quieted. And if he were swept to the floor, 
what would become of the Torah he carried! 
Yet, why couldn't he make the people stop 
rushing about and trampling one another under 
foot? In battles, he knew, soldiers followed 
their flag, and didn't he hold the flag he had 
rescued when Rabbi Goldstein fell? "I'll 
make 'em stop," he muttered with trembling 
lips "I'll get there even if they step all over me 
first" 

How he reached the Beemah in the center 
of the synagogue Ephraim never knew. But> 
dragging the Torah after him, he managed to 
climb across the seats and stagger up the steps 
of the platform. For a moment he stood there 
grasping the railing, almost sobbing with ex- 
haustion and fright; then, raising the Torah 
as he had seen his father raise it in their little 
synagogue at home, he let his voice ring out in 
the strong, sweet melody that the cantor sings 
when the Torah is taken from the Ark. 



THE COWARD 77 

The struggling crowd was shocked into a 
temporary stillness. The mad confusion ceased 
for a moment as all turned startled eyes to the 
beemah, where a frightened, whitefaced boy, 
his jacket torn almost to shreds, stood holding 
the Torah in his arms, swaying from weakness 
as he sang. There was a moment's silence; 
then Ephraim felt a great wave of relief sweep 
over him, as he heard his father's dear voice, 
far in the rear of the synagogue, take up the 
response. "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, 
the Lord is one," sang Ephraim, and, "One is 
our God ; great is our Lord ; holy is His name," 
answered Ephraim's father, and the congrega- 
tion, hardly knowing that they sang, followed 
him. 

"Magnify the Lord with me," sang Ephraim, 
his voice growing stronger and firmer as the 
men and boys, thoroughly calmed, stood quietly 
in their places and repeated the familiar words. 

Rabbi Goldstein, white and shaken and lean- 
ing upon the arms of several members, walked 
to the platform. He tried to speak to the 
people, but the memory of what had passed 
and the horror of what might have been if the 
panic had not been stopped, overcame him. He 
could only lay his hand on Ephraim's shoulder, 
sobbing like a child. Ephraim, hardly aware 
that the danger was over, looked up at him 



78 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

curiously. Then, seeing his father beside him, 
he forgot that he was a brave soldier who had 
saved his flag, and, feeling like a very little boy 
again, clung to his father, crying hysterically: 
"Papa., aren't you hurt? Where's mama and 
baby oh, take me home!" 

But it was almost an hour later, after every- 
one had detained them to praise Ephraim, that 
the two stood on the steps of the synagogue. 
One of the older boys could it be Nathan? had 
lined all of the Cheder pupils along the side- 
walk, where they stood at "attention," some of 
them still holding their torn flags. "Now, fel- 
lows!" cried a voice which sounded like Eph- 
raim's old tormentor's, "now begin " and to 
the boy's great confusion they broke into the 
old "yell" he had often heard on the playground 
and had admired, though vaguely, for he was 
never sure just what it all meant. 

"What's the matter with Ephraim?" shrieked 
the boys. 

"He's all right!" 

'Who's all right?" 

"E-p-h-r-a-i-m." 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 

A Channukah Story 

"Father," pleaded Bennie, "please let me light 
it just once." 

Mr. Roth shook his head. "Not today, 
Bennie. We have no candles small enough for 
the menorah; besides, you must not light the 
candles until the first night of Channukah." 

Bennie pouted a little. When one is a boy 
of five, living on a farm three miles away 
from his nearest playmate, it is hard to wait 
patiently for a new privilege. And until this 
year Bennie's father had not considered him old 
enough to light the Channukah lights and say 
the blessing. "How long must I wait till Chan- 
nukah?" he asked with an impatient wriggle, 
as Mr. Eoth replaced the tin menorah he had 
shown him on the top shelf of the cupboard. 

"Just two weeks," Mr. Roth consoled his son. 
"Suppose we begin to learn the blessing now?" 

Bennie nodded eagerly and a few moments 
later his mother, entering the kitchen, smiled 
to hear him repeating: "Boruch atto boruch 
atto boruch atto Adonai and what's the next 

word, papa?" She put away the jar of butter 

79 



80 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

she had brought up from the cellar and stood 
for a moment behind Bennie's chair, her hand 
resting on his curly head. 

"He learns easily, doesn't he?" she said a 
little wistfully. "When he is a little older, 
perhaps he can go to Hebrew school like 
his cousins in New York." She sighed, her 
eyes wandering through the window over the 
vast white fields. "It is lonely out here, away 
from all Jews," she murmured half to her- 
self. 

Her husband nodded, for he understood how 
she missed her family and all the neighbors in 
the crowded Jewish quarter where she had lived 
until her marriage. He realized, too how hard 
she found her many farm duties, how easily she 
became tired these days, when the heavy snow- 
drifts seemed to shut them off from the outer 
world and even the postman failed to appear 
down the unbroken road, bringing their daily 
Jewish paper and an occasional letter in his 
bag. But Morris Koth feared to return to the 
city, for the doctor had warned him that he 
would never be well so long as he worked in a 
crowded tailor shop. His brother had lent him 
enough money to travel west to take up a 
claim in Dakota; if he lived on the land just 
a little while longer, the government would give 
it to him for his own and there would be a 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 81 

secure home for Bennie and his mother. He 
had learned to love his new free life in the great 
out-of-doors; he felt he could not bear to go 
back to the city again; but he grew worried 
when he noticed how pale and thin his wife 
had grown, how often she spoke longingly of 
home. "When I have a little more saved, I will 
send her back for a visit," he told himself. 
"Perhaps she can take Bennie with her. If 
only her cough would be better and she would 
not get so tired!" 

On this bleak December afternoon, Mr. Roth 
renewed the same old promise to himself as he 
taught Bennie the blessing for the Channukah 
lights. And yet that evening, as his wife moved 
about the little kitchen putting the supper 
dishes away, there was such a fine color in her 
cheeks and her eyes were so bright that Mr. 
Roth felt he had been needlessly anxious. But 
a week later she complained of pains in her 
chest and throat, and when Bennie wriggled 
because she dressed him so slowly, she allowed 
him to finish buttoning his shoes for himself. 
Bennie was thunder-struck; he was so used 
to having his mother pet and spoil him that 
now he just sat on the edge of the bed with 
his mouth wide-open, too astonished even to 
protest when his mother lay back on the pillows 
and said she was too tired to dress him. When 



82 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Mr. Roth came in from milking, she tried to 
laugh away her faintness, but he was badly 
frightened. He dressed Bennie as well as he 
could and awkwardly set the table for break- 
fast and heated some coffee. He would not 
allow Mrs. Roth to get up again, although he 
promised not to go for the doctor if she felt 
any better the next day. 

The next morning Mrs. Both tried to drag 
herself about the house, but by noon she was 
back in bed again, looking so white and weak 
that even Bennie was frightened. He stood 
watching his father with great round eyes as 
Mr. Roth pulled on his heavy boots and sweater, 
and moved nervously about the kitchen prepar- 
ing for a trip to town ten miles away. Bennie 
went to the window and scratched a little hole 
in the frosted pane. 

"Papa," he announced, "you can't go to town 
today. There aren't any roads. It's all white 
and smooth just like a table cloth." 

Mr. Roth's lips tightened. "I've got to make 
a road, Bennie boy," he said simply. "I'll take 
a shovel along and dig my way through." He 
followed Bennie to the window and looked from 
the white prairies to the grey clouds over head 
with troubled eyes. "If the blizzard only holds 
off a while longer," he muttered more to him- 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 83 

self than to Bennie, "I'll get the doctor back 
here. But if we're held up in the snow " 

"Is mama very sick?" Bennie asked him. 

"I'm afraid so." His father pulled on his 
heavy fur mittens. "So you must be a very 
good boy and take care of her until I get back. 
Don't worry her and if she doesn't want to talk 
to you, just let her rest. I'll bring you some 
candy from town and," with sudden inspiration, 
"if you're a good boy all afternoon, I'll let 
you light the candles and say the blessing to- 
night." 

Bennie clapped his hands gleefully. "To- 
night's Channukah, tonight's Channukah," he 
chanted shrilly. "Boruch atto Adonai please 
hear me say the blessing before you go, papa." 
But his father kissed him hastily and started 
for the door. "Tonight, when you light the 
candles," he promised. "But now I must go 
for the doctor right away." 

Feeling strangely frightened, although he 
hardly knew why, Bennie followed his father to 
the bedroom, where his mother lay tossing upon 
the bed. Her face was flushed and she threw 
her head about on the pillow. But she tried to 
smile when she saw that Bennie drew back 
afraid. 

"It's just my throat," she managed to 
whisper. "I don't seem to be able to breathe. 



84 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

But I'll get along all right till you come back," 
she ended bravely. "Just leave something on 
the table for Bennie's supper. And, Bennie, 
please don't come in and bother mama for a 
little while. Play out in the kitchen and let her 
sleep." 

A few moments later Bennie stood in the 
middle of the kitchen, feeling very much alone. 
The rapidly rising wind howled and blustered 
until the frail little house seemed to shake be- 
fore it; then the howling would cease for a 
moment and all would grow so quiet that it 
seemed as though he were the only living person 
in the world. The little fellow wanted to run 
to his mother, as he always did, for comfort; 
then he remembered that he was a big boy now, 
big enough to take care of mother and the farm, 
when, father was away. He squared his shoul- 
ders resolutely as he went to the cupboard for 
his box of toys. 

There were only a few playthings: the tin 
soldiers his Aunt Minna had sent him for his 
birthday, a rubber ball which had refused to 
bounce properly after he had pricked it with a 
pin, a box of dominoes, excellent for building 
forts for his soldiers, and several picture books. 
For a while he amused himself turning the 
pages and murmuring the stories his mother 
had told him so often that he knew them by 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 85 

heart. Tkere was Golden-locks in a blue dress 
and red sunbonnet driven home by three angry 
bears; on the next page Cinderella rode to the 
ball behind six prancing white horses and here 
was Jack climbing the beanstalk which grew 
beside his mother's cottage door. Best of all 
were the pictures in the largest story book, 
pictures of a little boy named Joseph, with a 
kind father and wicked brothers, who stole his 
pretty coat and threw him into a cave. Bennie 
studied the pictures with satisfaction, especially 
the one of Joseph sitting in a big chair with a 
great many people fanning him or bowing be- 
fore him. But soon he found that it was grow- 
ing too dark to see the pictures distinctly; the 
short December day had deepened into twilight 
and the room was gray with misty lights, while 
the great stove in the corner cast queer flicker- 
ing shadows on the walls. 

The boy walked to the window to raise the 
blinds and again scratched a peep hole in the 
frosty pane. It was snowing hard, great white 
flakes that whirled and danced like bits of torn 
paper. Bennie shivered a little as he hoped 
his father would be home soon; he knew daddy 
was a big, strong man, but it was not good to 
think of him out there in the darkness. He 
wondered what time it was, anyhow. There 
was a clock in the bedroom and if mother was 



86 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

awake she would be glad to tell him, he rea- 
soned. He stole softly to her bed. In the un- 
certain light he could see that her eyes were 
closed; she seemed to be asleep, but she made 
queer sounds like some one crying and her 
breast rose and fell jerkily beneath the blankets. 

Bennie tiptoed back into the kitchen, curled 
himself up on the sofa and wondered what to 
do next. He had been taught not to be afraid 
of the dark, but he did want to go on looking 
at his picture books and playing with his 
soldiers. Besides, he was beginning to feel 
hungry and he was sure he wouldn't enjoy the 
supper of bread and milk and pie father had 
left on the table, if he had to eat it in the dark. 
But ever since he could remember, both father 
and mother had forbidden him to light the 
lamps. He wondered whether they would care 
tonight, when he was such a big boy, old enough 
to light the Channukah candles. 

Suddenly he jumped to his feet. Hadn't 
father said, just before he left, that tonight was 
Channukah! Then he must light his candles 
right away, for hadn't father explained to him, 
while learning the blessing, that he must kindle 
the first yellow taper and say the strange 
Hebrew words just as soon as it got dark on 
the first night of Channukah? Bennie didn't 
understand just why he wasn't allowed to light 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 87 

the lamps, but would be permitted to light the 
Channukah candles; nor did he consider how 
worried his parents would be to have him strik- 
ing matches unless they stood near to watch 
him. It was enough for him that it was Chan- 
nukah at last and that he knew the difficult 
blessing over the light, every word of it. Why, 
he wouldn't have to awaken poor mother to help 
him, which relieved him a good deal, as he felt 
somehow that she would get well quicker if 
she were allowed to sleep as long as she 
pleased. But how could he reach the menorah 
father had put away on the very top shelf, next 
to the candle sticks for Shabbas? Bennie was 
not easily daunted. Even if he couldn't use 
the menorah the first night, he was determined 
hot to be cheated out of lighting the very first 
candle tonight. He couldn't reach the box of 
little yellow tapers that father had put away 
with the menorah, but on the lowest shelf he 
found just what he wanted an old tin candle- 
stick with a half-burned candle which mother 
sometimes used when she went down into the 
cellar and didn't care to bother with a lamp. 
Mrs. Both always kept the box of matches 
well out of the reach of Bennie's active fingers, 
so he didn't trouble himself to look for them. 
Taking the candle he opened the stove door and 
thrust it into the flames. Walking very care- 



88 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

fully, for lie felt mother might consider what 
he was doing almost as naughty as playing with 
fire, he put the candle back into the holder and 
set it upon the window sill. Then, standing 
very straight, he slowly repeated the Hebrew 
benediction: "Boruch atto Adonoi Elohenu 
Melech ho-olom asher kiddeshonu bemitzvosov 
vetzivonu lehadlik ner shel Channukah." 

Sitting on the floor in the warm patch of 
light cast by the stove, Bennie ate his supper, 
looking proudly all the while at his candle 
burning fine and straight in the window. When 
the dishes were all empty, he went to the window 
pane and amused himself by scraping off the 
frost with the kitchen knife. He wanted to 
see his candle throwing a pretty ribbon of light 
on the snow; he knew it would look nice, for 
he remembered how pretty the lamp in the 
kitchen window had appeared to him one night 
when they had come from town and had seen 
it shining as they drove up the hill. He wanted 
his candle to shine a long ways just like a 
lamp and, bringing out an old lantern which 
his father had once given him to play with, 
he set the light within it and again placed it 
before the carefully scraped pane. Then he 
sat down on the window eill, watching the 
snow flurries and wishing for father to come 
home. 



THE LIGHT THAT NEVER FAILED 89 

Father came at last, bringing with him a 
tall, bearded man who carried a little black 
satchel and hurried into mother's room without 
saying a word. Father went after him and 
for a time Bennie sat trembling besides his 
Chanmikah light, wondering what it was all 
about. After a very little while, although it 
seemed to Bennie that he had waited all night, 
father came back into the kitchen and took the 
little fellow in his arms. Bennie saw that he 
was crying and it frightened him, for he had 
never seen his father cry before. 

"Is mama very sick?" he asked. 

"The doctor says she will get well," answered 
Mr. Roth, and his voice trembled. "You can't 
understand it all, Bennie boy, but there was 
something bad in her throat," and he added 
something about diphtheria which meant noth- 
ing to Bennie, who just considered it one of 
the big words grown-up people were always 
using to confuse him. "But the doctor has 
just burned it all out and she will get well. 

Only if we hadn't come in time " He 

stopped and shuddered. "Bennie, if you hadn't 
put your light in the window we might have 
been an hour later in getting here and then the 
doctor says it would have been too late. Our 
lanterns went out at the top of the hill and 
the snow was so blinding that we might have 



90 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

floundered about half the night before we found 
the house. But your little candle helped us 
to find the way." 

"I said the blessing all right," Bennie told 
his father, "but was it all right not to use the 
regular menorah and a yellow candle?" he 
ended anxiously. 

"You did just the right thing," his father 
assured him. 

But Bennie was not satisfied. "Please, papa," 
he pleaded, "please get down the real menorah 
and the yellow candle and let me light it and 
say the Hebrew for you. Please!" 

Smiling a little uncertainly, Mr. Both brought 
down the tin menorah and the box of yellow 
tapers. He gave Bennie one for the shammas, 
explaining that it was to light the others, and 
watched him with the same twisted smile as 
the child adjusted and lit the first candle. 
"Boruch atto Adonoi," began Bennie proudly, 
and he wondered why his father hid his face 
in his hands and started to cry all over again. 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 

A Chamishah Osor Story 

It was many, many years ago, long before 
you and I were born. In the land of Palestine, 
across the blue waters, dwelt Joshua the Ben- 
jaminite and his wife, Shoshanah, and little 
Gideon, who was their only child. The boy was 
born on Chamishah Osor, the New Year of the 
Trees, and on that day his father planted a 
little olive tree beside the door of his house and 
marked it with a stone. And on the stone 
Joshua carved the name of his son and the day 
of his birth, smiling to think how the child 
and the tree would grow together, year by year, 
in the pleasant land of Israel. 

Gideon was a fine, sturdy little fellow, with 
a merry laugh and an active brown body that 
never seemed to tire. But when sunset came, 
he was willing to rest with his mother beside 
the door of their home and listen to her stories 
of their people: of Moses, who gave the Law 
unto Israel; of Elijah, the prophet, and King 
Solomon, who ruled not only the sons of men, 
but even the birds and the beasts and the 
demons of the air. Gideon loved these stories 

91 



92 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

well; but lie loved even better tlie tales of the 
heroes of Israel: Samson, the slayer of thous- 
ands, and fair-haired David with his harp, 
and, beet of all, Gideon, that man of valor, 
whose name he bore. 

"O! mother," little Gideon would cry, "when 
will I wear a sword and a shield and fight the 
battles of the Lord?" 

"When you are grown to be a man, my son," 
his mother would always answer, sighing a 
little, for he was her only child and she knew 
that she would be very lonely when he no longer 
played before her door. 

But Gideon, laughing, would run to measure 
himself beside the little olive tree. "See, 
mother," he would rejoice, "I am almost a 
hands-breadth taller than when father made 
this last notch above my head. Surely, I am 
almost a man." Then his mother would smile 
at his childish pride, and it seemed that the 
little olive tree laughed with him, although it 
may have been nothing more than the evening 
wind stirring among the leaves. 

"I am almost ready to bear fruit," thought the 
olive tree one day, "while my little brother is 
still a child. But he grows taller and stronger 
every spring, and some day he will leave my 
shade to do great deeds in the land. Then I 
shall be lonely to hear his merry laugh and I 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 93 

will find the days very long until he returns to 
his mother and to me." 

The years passed and Gideon left his father's 
house, but not to wear a sword and a shield 
and to do battle for the God of Israel. The 
little olive tree did not understand what had 
happened: the band of fierce, dark men upon 
horses, the clashing of spears, the tossing of 
fiery brands, which left the houses of Joshua 
the Benjaminite and his neighbors black and 
smoldering ruins. Nor did the olive tree under- 
stand why, when Joshua fell upon the grass, 
bleeding from many wounds, the horsemen 
bound Shoshanah and little Gideon and took 
them away with them, along with other weeping 
women and children whose tiny hands were too 
weak to wield a sword. 

But as the invaders began to move slowly 
down the long road, Gideon broke from his 
captors and threw himself at the foot of his 
olive tree. "I will not go away this is my 
home I will not go away," he cried again and 
again in his grief. The soldiers dragged him 
off, and the olive tree shivered to hear his little 
brother's wild sobbing. "But you will come 
again," he rustled bravely, or was it only the 
wind among the leaves? "You will come back 
again and be happy in the land of Israel." 

The years passed and still the land was des- 



94 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

olate. The olive tree grew in stature and in 
beauty and more than one traveler, pausing by 
the roadside, ate of its fruit and thanked in 
his heart the man who had planted it. But 
Gideon never came, and sometimes at sunset the 
green-gray branches of the olive tree sighed 
sadly, for the heart of the tree was lonely for 
its little friend. At such moments the happy 
past seemed little more than a dream, and the 
olive tree would have doubted that Gideon had 
ever lived, if it had not been for the moss- 
covered stone at its foot. 

Yet the olive tree did not lose hope, for it 
had a brave heart and it felt that the little 
brother it loved must come back some day to 
live in the land of his fathers. The winter 
frosts chilled it, the summer suns scorched the 
silvery sheen of its leaves, yet the heart of the 
olive tree never despaired, but waited for Gideon 
to return. "He will be the same little child," 
said the olive tree, "for the sons of men do not 
grow old so swiftly as the trees. I wonder 
whether he will still be round-faced and bright- 
eyed; I wonder whether he will still laugh 
as merrily as a little brook in the spring time?" 
So the olive tree dreamed on, never realizing 
how very short are the days of a man's life, 
never knowing that Gideon had grown an old 
man and had died in exile in a far away 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 95 

country and that his children and their children 
after them were scattered over the earth. 

Then one spring morning, after many cen- 
turies had passed with their burdens of winter 
frosts and summer sun, two Arabs paused be- 
side the olive tree. One of them carried some- 
thing shining and sharp like a sword, and the 
olive tree wondered dreamily whether Gideon 
would come back wearing his sword and shining 
breast plate. But it was an ax that the Arab 
carried, and, even as it dreamed, the olive tree 
felt the cruel steel hacking and tearing its 
gnarled trunk. The olive tree lay upon the 
ground crushed and broken, and the Arabs 
gathered up the trunk and the branches and 
carried them to the market place upon the 
coast, 

"Alas, they are tearing me away from the 
land of my birth," sobbed the olive tree, "even 
as they took my little brother. Will I never 
raise my branches to the blue skies of Palestine 
again?" Yet, somehow, the tree did not de- 
spair, although it suffered cruelly when men 
cut it into many pieces and hacked and carved 
them into fantastic shapes. The beauty of the 
olive tree was lost forever; its silvery leaves 
were withered; it was broken as an earthen 
vessel breaks when it falls upon a stone: yet 
the bit of the tree that held its brave heart 



96 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

beat on as hopefully as before. "They have de- 
stroyed me in my strength; but my little 
brother will play again beneath the trees of 
Eretz Israel," murmured the heart of the exiled 
olive tree. 

In the dark chest where it lay, the bit of 
olive wood could not know that it was being 
carried across the great blue water to a land 
of mighty towers and roaring streets, a land 
where many men dwell together in cities and 
sometimes seem to forget their friends, the 
trees. It lay in the dark, dreaming, hoping, 
almost asleep, until it felt thrilled beneath the 
soft touch of a child's hand. And the heart 
of the olive tree leaped in joy, for never since 
that dreadful day when his little brother had 
been torn from his home had the olive tree 
felt the touch of a child's soft fingers. 

In the city of mighty towers and roaring 
streets, far away from the land of Israel, lived 
a little boy with a merry laugh and an active 
body that never seemed to tire. Like a great 
many other little boys, Judah loved to run and 
play ; but often, when he grew tired around bed- 
time, he liked to climb into his grandfather's 
lap, resting his rosy face against the old man's 
long white beard, as he listened to the stories 
his grandfather told him of the heroes of their 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 97 

people: Samson, the strong warrior and fair- 
haired David and Gideon with his spear and 
shining shield. Little Judah loved these stories 
with all his heart and sometimes he would inter- 
rupt his grandfather, crying: "Grandfather, 
when I grow up, I will take a big ship and 
go straight across the water to Eretz Israel and 
see the places where all these people lived!" 

"But the land is a long way off," his grand- 
father would always warn him, "and it is so 
long since we planted our trees and tended our 
flocks there, that sometimes it seems like a 
dream." 

One winter day when the wind piled great 
drifts of snow in the strangely silent streets, 
little Judah and a number of other boys and 
girls sat in the big assembly room of their 
Hebrew School and listened eagerly while the 
teacher explained the pictures thrown upon a 
screen. He showed them pictures of far-off 
Palestine, the rugged mountains and the stately 
cedars, the tomb of Rachel, the gentle mother of 
Joseph, and the broken Wall where every Fri- 
day night our people weep and pray on the 
ruins of our Temple. He showed them lonely 
travelers bearing burdens and driving their 
patient donkeys before them, crowded market 
places and fair groves of olive trees. And little 
Judah sat with wide-stretched eyes, for he 



98 - JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

seemed to see for the first time the land which 
grandfather's stories had made so real to him. 
He decided that he liked best the pictures of the 
farmers working in their fields and orchards. 
Then he heard the wind dashing the snow 
against the window panes and he smiled a lit- 
tle to hear the teacher say: "It is not winter 
now in the land of Palestine. Two weeks from 
today, the colonists in Eretz Israel will be cel- 
ebrating Chamishah Osor b'Shevat, the New 
Year of the Trees. On that day the farmers go 
into the fields and bless the trees. You see, it is 
an old Jewish belief that just as God judges the 
Jewish people on their Rosh Hashonah, He 
judges every tree on Chamishah Osor. A great 
many trees are planted on that day; then it 
used to be a pretty custom in Palestine to plant 
a tree when a little child was born. Don't you 
think it must have been nice to celebrate your 
birthday with your own tree every year?" 

The teacher went on telling the children how 
even in New York when Chamishah Osor comes 
to us in the midst of the winter weather and 
few children have a bit of ground where they 
can plant even a flower, Jewish children can 
still keep the New Year of the Trees. "Next 
week," he said, "I am going to show you more 
pictures of Palestine and on Chamishah Osor we 
will have a little party, when each of you will 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 99 

have a taste of some fruit I am expecting from 
Jaffa oranges and dates and pomegranates." 
Then, smiling at their eager applause, he tap- 
ped his bell for dismissal and the boys and girls 
marched down the long aisles. 

Judah walked home slowly along the snowy 
streets, the sleety wind making his round 
cheeks rosier than ever and nipping his ears 
and nose. But he did not think of the cold; 
he was seeing again the wonderful land of Pales- 
tine where it was spring and boys and girls 
were planting trees under the blue skies. "I 
wish I could see and feel something that came 
from there," thought Judah, "instead of just 
pictures." 

The next week Judah could hardly wait for 
the regular Hebrew lesson to be over, that he 
might go down to the assembly room for the 
new pictures of Palestine. Again he saw the 
orchards and the vineyards, the long winding 
roads with the olive trees on either side. "I 
wish I could touch those trees just once," 
thought Judah wistfully. 

That evening he perched himself upon grand- 
father's knee to tell him about the pictures. "I 
used to think Eretz Israel was just a sort of 
make-believe country like the places you read 
about in fairy stories," confessed Judah. "But 
when I saw all those lovely trees and the high 



100 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

mountains, I knew that it was a real place with 
real people living there. Did you ever see any- 
body who had been in Eretz Israel, grand- 
father?" 

Grandfather nodded smilingly. "Yes, in- 
deed. I was going to surprise you; but perhaps 
it will be more fun for you to know now and 
look forward to meeting him. The son of an 
old friend of mine has been traveling in the 
East for the last two years. Yesterday he 
wrote me that he had reached New York and 
would come to see us soon. And because I 
know how much you love to hear about Pales- 
tine I told him to bring us some of the curious 
things that he had picked up in his travels and 
to be ready to tell you many stories. You will 
like that, won't you, sonny?" 

"I bet he won't tell better ones than you," 
Judah assured his grandfather stoutly. "But 
I do want to see him quick! Will he come to- 
morrow, grandfather?" 

It seemed to Judah that the traveler would 
never come, but about a week later when the 
little boy came home from school, he found a 
stranger in the sitting room talking to his 
grandfather, a tall, tanned young man with 
broad shoulders and keen, black eyes. Grand- 
father broke off in the middle of a sentence to 
send a welcoming smile in Judah's direction. 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 101 

"Here is Judah now," he said to his guest. 
"Judah, Mr. Abrams has been waiting for you 
to come home from school. Now sit down and 
ask him all the questions you want about 
Palestine." 

"I can't promise to answer all of them," 
smiled the young man. 

"I don't want to hear him talk," said Judah 
rather impolitely. "But I want to see all the 
things he's brought from Palestine not pic- 
tures, but real things that came from there." 

Mr. Abrams laughed. "You're like my little 
nephew," he told Judah. "He hadn't seen me 
for a long time, but as soon as I landed, in- 
stead of kissing me like a nice boy and telling 
me he was glad to see me, he said; What did 
you bring me, Uncle?' " 

"Huh," said Judah, unabashed, "I don't blame 
him. I don't like kissing either. Say, is it the 
way my teacher at Hebrew School said that 
they're planting trees in Palestine now while 
it's cold and snowy here in New York?" 

"Yes. Last year I was in the colony of 
Petach Tikvah (door of hope), and at Cham- 
ishah Osor that's the New Year of the Trees, 
you know " 

"Oh, I know all about that; I saw the pic- 
tures. But did you taste the real fruit?" 

"Of course I did and it tasted mighty good. 



102 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

California oranges may be all right, but how 
about these?" Mr. Abrams pushed a box toward 
him. "I wouldn't let your grandfather open it 
until you came. Now you can go back to your 
Hebrew School and tell them all that you saw 
and smelled and tasted oranges that grew in 
Eretz Israel." 

Judah opened the box, his eyes growing larger 
as he saw the golden oranges, the dates and the 
pomegranates. And there were queer black 
things, too, something like pods, which he was 
sure wouldn't taste half so nice as the other 
fruit. "What are these?" he asked, gingerly 
picking up one of the pods. 

"The fruit of the carob tree. It's dried and 
ground and made into bread. I saw a great 
many carob trees in Palestine and although 
they are not as beautiful as the cedars and 
olives, I always like to look at them because 
they make me think of the story of Rabbi Choni. 
Has your grandpa ever told you about him and 
his carob tree?" 

"I told you Mr. Abrams could tell you a great 
many more stories than I know," grandfather 
told Judah in a teasing aside. 

"Please tell me about him," begged Judah, 
forgetting what he had told Mr. Abrams a few 
moments before. "Did he live in Palestine?" 

"Oh yes, only a great many years ago." an- 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 103 

swered Mr. Abrams, while Judah after a nod 
of permission from grandfather, began to peel 
his orange. "Now one day Rabbi Choni hap- 
pened to pass the house of an old neighbor and 
found him on his knees planting a carob tree 
beside the door. This surprised Rabbi Choni, 
for he knew that carob trees do not bear fruit 
for a very long time, and he said: 'Friend, why 
are you planting a carob tree? You are an old 
man and will never live to taste its fruit.' 

"But the neighbor answered that he did not 
plant the carob tree for himself. He said that 
he had enjoyed eating the fruit of the trees 
that his own grandfather and father had 
planted in their day and that he was anxious 
to plant a tree which his sons and their 
children might enjoy. Rabbi Choni laughed at 
him and said he was foolish to think so far 
ahead. 'We are both old men/ he said, 'and 
soon we will be forgotten, for neither of us 
will live to see the carob tree bear fruit.' Then 
Rabbi Choni went on his way, but he grew so 
tired that he had to lie down by the road and 
go to sleep." Mr. Abrams stopped with a little 
twinkle in his eyes. "Did you ever hear of a 
man falling asleep for a great many years?" he 
asked. Judah nodded gravely. "Of course. 
There was Rip Van Winkle. He went to sleep 
in the Catskill Mountains we passed them last 



104 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

summer when we went down the Hudson Eiver 
and papa told me all about him. He slept for 
twenty years; maybe Eabbi Choni didn't sleep 
so long?" he ended seriously. 

"Much longer just seventy years. When he 
awoke, he was surprised to see the sun setting 
although it had been only noon when he had 
fallen asleep. 'What a long nap I've had,' he 
said, and started to walk home. But he had 
a hard time to find the road again, because a 
great hedge of thorns had grown up about him 
that noboby might know where he was sleeping. 
As he went down the road he met many people, 
but they were all strangers and he was puzzled 
when they looked at him queerly and stroked 
their beards. He looked down and saw that his 
beard had grown almost to his knees!" 

"Just like Kip Van Winkle," murmured 
Judah. 

"Even the houses along the way seemed 
strange to him," continued Mr. Abrams. "But 
at last he saw a house that he was sure he knew : 
the house of his old neighbor, the last man he 
had seen before falling asleep. He was more be- 
wildered than ever now, for he saw a fine 
carob tree growing beside the door. A young 
man stood under it gathering the fruit and 
Ohoni asked him to call out his old neighbor. 
The young man stared at Rabbi Choni and told 



THE BRAVE LITTLE OLIVE TREE 105 

him that his grandfather had been dead for 
many years. 'But we have never forgotten him,' 
he said, 'for he was a good man and always 
thought of others. Why, just before he died, 
he planted this carob tree; whenever I gather 
the fruit I think of my good old grandfather/ 
And then Rabbi Choni knew that because of 
his selfishness, he had been allowed to sleep 
until he could see the carob tree bearing fruit." 

"I like that story," said Judah critically. "I 
want you to tell me a great many more; but 
first show me what you've got in that other 
box, please!" 

"Judah!" scolded grandfather, but Mr. Ab- 
rams only laughed at his impatience, as he 
opened the box and spread the contents upon 
the table before the eager child. He brought 
out bits of rare lace and silver filigree that 
he said had been made by pupils of the Be- 
zalel School at Jerusalem, several faded bits 
of parchment which grandfather lifted rev- 
erently and tried to read, paper cutters and 
penholders made of olive wood. Last of all, he 
placed in Judah's hands a little book with 
wooden covers. "This is your Chamishah Osor 
present," said Mr. Abrams. "I bought it in 
Jaffa. The pressed flowers inside grew in Pal- 
estine and the covers are made of olive wood." 

A ray of sunlight pierced the gray storm 



106 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

clouds outside and shone upon the little wooden- 
bound book in Judah's hand. It seemed to 
warm the heart of the olive tree into life again 
and it stirred beneath the kindly light and 
the touch of the child's loving fingers. It was 
not aware of the strange room, the old man 
who bent over the Hebrew parchments, the 
young traveler who stood beside him. The 
polished bit of olive wood saw only that the 
child who held it in his hand was round- 
cheeked, with merry dark eyes and a laughing 
mouth. 

"Was this once a real olive tree growing in 
Palestine," said Judah, "and may I really 
keep it?" 

"Yes. And every time you look at it, don't 
forget that 'way over there our colonists are 
planting olive trees and helping the land to 
bloom again for other people just like the old 
man in Kabbi Choni's story." 

"When I'm a man," promised Judah, "I'm 
going to Palestine and plant trees, too." 

"I always knew my little brother Gideon 
would come back," murmured the heart of the 
olive tree, as it fell into a long sleep, for it 
was very tired. 



THE PURIM PUSSY 

Marion sat curled up in one corner of the 
sofa, thinking hard; the Queen of Sheba, as her 
name happened to be that week, sat curled up 
on Marion's knee, also thinking very hard; at 
least, she looked wise, and that is all one can 
expect of even the most sensible of pussy cats. 
Marion was ten years old and might have been 
pretty if it hadn't been for the freckles on her 
turned-up nose; the Queen of Sheba was dis- 
tinctly plain, a striped gray kitten whose ears 
had looked a little moth-eaten ever since she 
had scorched them through sitting too near the 
radiator one wintry evening. 

"Queenie," said Marion sadly, for she al- 
ways made it a point to tell all her troubles 
to her sympathetic little friend, "Queenie, I 
just don't know what to do about my Shalach- 
nionoth for Kuth next Sunday. You don't 
know what Shalach-monoth means, do you, 
pussy?" as the Queen of Sheba stretched her- 
self with an inquiring yawn, "but that's be- 
cause you haven't lived in a Jewish family very 
long and never celebrated Purim before. It's 
an old Jewish custom, and ever since Miss 
Hirsch, our Sabbath School teacher, told us 

107 



108 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

about it two years ago, we've always taken 
Shalach-monoth that means presents to some 
poor or sick person on Purim. Year before last 
the girls in our class took baskets of cake and 
fruit and a nice smoking jacket to Grandpa 
Morris at the Old People's Home; last year we 
brought some presents to poor Mrs. Franken- 
stein's children; and this year " but here the 
pussy cat with a languid switch of her tail 
jumped to the floor and walked lazily to her 
favorite spot in front of the radiator, as though 
the Purim plans of Miss Hirsch's class were no 
concern of hers. 

"I might have known you wouldn't be inter- 
ested," Marion called after her angrily. "You 
don't care any more about what I want to 
do than Aunt Becky does." And Marion 
walked to the window to stare gloomily into 
the street, where the lamps were already glim- 
mering through the dusk. "I wish I had some- 
body real to talk things over with," she thought 
gloomily. 

For the last two years Marion had lived with 
her Aunt Becky, who had offered her orphan 
niece a home on the death of Marion's mother. 
Aunt Becky was kind enough in her way; she 
saw that Marion had neat clothes to wear to 
school and Sabbath School, took excellent care 
of her when she had the measles, and always 



THE PURIM PUSSY 109 

insisted that she wear her rubbers in wet 
weather, just as Marion's own mother would 
have done. But Aunt Becky seemed to forget 
her own little girl days and was determined 
that her niece shouldn't be spoiled by what she 
liked to call "nonsense.'' Marion had no toys 
except those her grandfather sent her on her 
birthdays, and her few books were prizes re- 
ceived at Sabbath School for perfect attendance 
or good scholarship. She seldom had any pocket 
money, and as Aunt Becky considered picture 
shows and children's parties "nonsense," Marion 
rarely enjoyed such treats with her class mates. 
Then, Aunt Becky hated to have strange chil- 
dren "cluttering up the house and bringing mud 
on the carpets," and so Marion did not dare 
to invite her friends to her home and often 
would have been very lonely if it had not been 
for the Queen of Sheba. 

The Queen of Sheba when just a little round 
ball of a kitten, had followed Marion home from 
school one day; it happened that Aunt Becky 
felt unusually goodnatured that afternoon and 
she had actually permitted her niece to keep the 
tiny creature, although she disliked cats her- 
self and continually threatened to turn the 
kitten out of doors if she ever caught her steal- 
ing steak from the ice box or jumping upon the 
bed-spread with dirty paws. But the kitten 



110 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

behaved with such perfect propriety that even 
Aunt Becky had to confess grudgingly that she 
wasn't much trouble, although she continually 
complained that the little glutton drank enough 
milk to feed a half dozen babies! As for Mar- 
ion, she found the new pet a far better play- 
thing than her newest doll and much more inter- 
esting than any of her story books. As soon as 
she got up in the morning, Marion would run to 
the basket in the kitchen to see whether Pussy 
Gray, as she had named her pet at first, was 
still there; she never forgot to pour out a sau- 
cer of milk for her before she helped Aunt 
Becky prepare their own breakfast ; her last act 
before leaving the house was to pet Pussy's soft 
gray head, and more than once she hurried home 
from school, impatient to catch a glimpse of the 
round little bunch of fur curled up in the parlor 
window as though expecting her return. 

And it was such a delightful worry to find a 
suitable name for the cat! At first "Pussy 
Gray" satisfied Marion; then, when she dis- 
covered Pussy's cunning trick of darting out 
her claws as though she meant to scratch you 
and as suddenly making them velvet again, she 
called her "Needles" and "Velvet Paws." For 
a little while, pussy answered to the name 
of "Florence Hirsch;" then, feeling that her 
teacher might not like to have a cat named 



THE PURIM PUSSY 111 

after her, Marion chose a name from her latest 
prize book, and even caused her aunt to smile 
grimly by calling "Robin Hood, Robin Hood!" 
whenever the kitten failed to appear. But the 
next week Marion's Sabbath School class had 
read of the visit of the beautiful Queen of Sheba 
to King Solomon, and Marion, who was not a 
little proud of her pussy's queenly walk and 
stately manners, at once re-named her "Queen 
of Sheba," calling her "Queenie" for short. 

Now that Marion had found a suitable name 
for her kitten at last, one would imagine that 
her troubles would be over ; but here was Purim 
coming with its question of a suitable Shalach- 
monoth for Ruth. For the two previous Purims 
her Aunt Becky had grudgingly given Marion 
a little basket of her delicious Homon-taschen 
of which she was not a little proud, for all of 
Aunt Becky's friends declared that no one else 
could make such wonderful Purim cookies. But 
Ruth had been ill for many months, and Miss 
Hirsch had advised the girls not to bring her 
any Purim goodies which the nurse might for- 
bid her to eat. 

"She wasn't at all strong before she had the 
fever," Miss Hirsch had told her class, "and now 
after lying in bed all this time, she is very weak, 
and, I am afraid, very lonely. It tires her to 
have too much company and as she isn't allowed 



112 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

to leave her room you can imagine how 
long the days seem to her. You know that 
Euth isn't poor and doesn't need warm cloth- 
ing or even toys, for her father and mother are 
able to give her everything she wants. So I 
want you girls to think very hard just what 
she would like best and get her something that 
will interest her and keep her amused." 

After class the little girls had discussed 
gravely what Ruth would like best. They were 
all very fond of their sick class mate and longed 
to give her the nicest possible Shalach-monoth ; 
but then, as Fanny Goldstein put it, "how 
can we buy anything nice enough for a 
girl who has everything she wants and has 
more money than any of us, anyhow?" But by 
the next Saturday, most of the girls had their 
Purim gifts selected. Fanny was going to send 
to New York for a blue and gold tea set, "which 
will make her breakfasts taste better." Fanny's 
cousin had picked out a lovely set of linen doi- 
lies to go with the tea service. Eae intended to 
bring a picture for the invalid's room, Lilian a 
Japanese kimona, Irene a hanging basket filled 
with ferns, and so on. "And what are you go- 
ing to get Ruth?" Rae asked Marion at last. 

Marion flushed hotly. Not for all the world 
would she tell the girls that she did not have 
the money to buy something "nice enough" for 



THE PURIM PUSSY 113 

their sick friend. "I haven't decided yet," 
she answered calmly, "but it's going to be very 
nice." 

That evening she mustered up enough cour- 
age to speak to her aunt. "Aunt Becky," she 
began timidly, "this year the girls in my class 
at Sabbath School are going to take a Shalach- 
monoth to Ruth Davis." 

"And I suppose you want me to make you 
some more Homon-taschen," said her aunt. 
"As though I didn't have enough cooking to do 
without making extras for those Davis' who 
could buy and sell us a dozen times over! 
Well," jabbing her needle through the stocking 
she was darning, "I'll put you up a basket of 
cakes you wont have to be ashamed of even in 
front of Mrs. Davis." 

"But I can't take Homon-taschen," explained 
Marion. "Miss Hirsch said that Kuth couldn't 
eat sweets or rich things. The other girls are 
all going to buy her something pretty for her 
room or to use while she's sick." 

"The other girls have fathers who make a lot 
of money to waste on nonsense," returned Aunt 
Becky grimly. "I don't think I've got any 
money to spend for presents for Abe Davis' 
girl. He can buy anything she wants, can't he?" 

"Oh, it isn't the present," cried Marion, her 
lips trembling as she saw how useless it would 



114 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"be to argue with her aunt, "but she's so lonely, 
"being sick in bed so long, that we thought if we 
could only do something to amuse her " 

"Give her the doll your grandpa sent last 
month for your birthday," suggested Aunt 
Becky, "it's as good as new, isn't it?" 

"But she has much nicer ones!" protested 
the little girl. "I haven't a thing in the world 
she'd care for; she doesn't like to read much, 
and, anyhow, my prize books all have my 
name written in them or the date. But if I had 
a dollar or two I'd buy her some plants for her 
window box or " 

"Well, I told you I haven't got a dollar or a 
dime to waste on nonsense," interrupted her 
aunt. She jerked the ball of cotton which had 
fallen from her lap and which Queenie had 
chased under the table. "I never saw such a 
cat! I wish to goodness you'd give her to 
Ruth Davis if she needs amusing. The cat 
ought to amuse her, and I'd be glad to be able 
to sit around in peace without having that 
creature climbing all over me!" 

Marion bent over Queenie and gently dis- 
entangled her from the cotton. Hugging the 
protesting pussy, who hated to have a pleasant 
romp interrupted, she carried her to a corner 
of the sofa in the parlor to help her think 
things over. It was only a week till Purim, and 



THE PURIM PUSSY 115 

Marion realized only too well that there was 
no hope of receiving help from her aunt. 

"And you won't help me either, you bad 
Queenie," she scolded, as she stared gloomily 
at the street lamps. "I'm too little to earn 
money, and I haven't a thing in the world to 
sell except you, and nobody would buy you, 
even if I could do without my kitty," she added 
tenderly, as Queenie, feeling lonely again, came 
purring against her legs. "And I do want to 
get Kuth something nice," she told the kitten, 
"because it must be hard for her lying all day 
in bed with nobody to play with. I know I'd 
have just died of being lonely when I had the 
measles, if it hadn't been for you." Then she 
stopped stroking the cat, while her aunt's words 
came back to her "the cat ought to amuse 
her." Why hadn't she thought of that before? 
Euth didn't own a cat and nobody would think 
of bringing her one. Perhaps none of the other 
girls had ever had a cat like Queenie and re- 
alized what a good companion and plaything a 
clever and affectionate pussy cat can be. 
Surely, Queenie would be the very nicest 
present to give her classmate for Purim. 

Marion picked Queenie up and rested her 
cheek against her fur. "Oh, Queenie, Queenie 
Cat," she murmured. "I don't know how I'm 
going to get on without you." 



116 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Purim came on Sunday that year. The little 
girls of Miss Hirsch's class, all of them dressed 
in long cloaks to cover the bright, fantastic 
dresses they wore, met at Lilian's house, each 
carrying a neatly wrapped package under her 
arm. Marion was the last to arrive and she 
flushed a little as she saw that she was the 
only one to carry a basket covered with a white 
cloth. 

"It makes it seem more like Purim to carry 
your Shalach-monoth in a basket," she explained 
shyly. "Didn't Miss Hirsch tell us that they 
always used to cover their Purim presents that 
rich people shouldn't try to show how much 
they were giving and poor people didn't have 
to be ashamed of what they gave?" 

"Well, I know I'm not ashamed of my lovely 
tea set," declared Fanny, hugging her long box 
closer. "It came from New York and why, 
isn't there something moving in your basket?" 
she demanded, pointing to the hearing cloth. 

Marion drew her cloak around her gift. "I 
I'm not going to tell you until we all get to 
Ruth's and show our presents," she stammered. 

But when they were all gathered in Ruth's 
sunny bedroom with its pretty white furniture 
and dainty blue hangings, Marion felt more and 
more ashamed of her poor gift. How could she 
give what Aunt Becky had more than once 



THE PURIM PUSSY 117 

called "a common tramp cat" to Ruth, who 
could own a dozen Angora pussies if she wanted 
them? And how the other girls would laugh at 
her! So she left her little covered basket on a 
couch in the corner, hoping that no one would 
ask to see her present, and firmly resolving not 
to offer her gift until the girls had gone unless 
the Queen of Sheba got out and made a fuss. 

At first there was too much excitement for 
any one to notice the absence of Marion's gift. 
The little girls had all put on the dresses they 
had worn for the Purim masquerade at Sabbath 
School, and for a while Ruth was kept busy 
admiring the pretty costumes, from Emma's 
long purple robe which made her look like 
a real Queen Esther to Rae's funny clown dress 
of red and yellow stripes. Then came the 
party, and although Ruth could not taste the 
ice cream in the pretty dishes or the pink and 
white cakes and candies, she enjoyed this part 
of the afternoon even more than her guests, for 
her mother opened the packages one by one 
and laid the presents on the bed beside her. 

Mrs. Davis was just unfolding Elsie's em- 
broidered doilies, when a strange voice sounded 
above the girls' laughter, a voice that rose from 
the corner of the couch and repeated "Me-ow," 
first plaintively, then with all the anger of a 
spoiled kitten, who, having waked from her nap, 



118 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

wanted to share the merrymaking, too. "Me- 
ow!" said Queenie, and she added, although no 
one but Marion understood her, "Me-ow let me 
out at once." 

"Why, it sounds like a cat," cried Mrs. Davis. 

"I guess it's my present," said Marion weakly, 
and, flushing to the roots of her hair she pulled 
the white cloth aside and lifted her Shalach- 
monoth from the basket. Her friends looked at 
each other, hardly knowing whether to laugh 
or not; they might have suspected another girl 
of bringing her pet kitten to a Purim party for 
a joke, but they knew that Marion never played 
jokes and hated teasing. Then, before anyone 
could speak, Ruth held out her thin little arms 
for the kitten, crying, "Oh, did you really bring 
it to me? Let me have it," and a moment later 
Marion's humble gift sat purring upon Euth's 
pillow, lapping up ice cream out of a pink sau- 
cer and looking over the company now and 
then with her most royal air. 

"I think she's going to feel at home with 
you," faltered Marion, and then she realized 
for the first time just how lonely she would be 
without her pet. 

Three days later Mr. Davis' chauffeur called 
for Marion in the big car and took her to the 
house on the hill "to see Miss Ruth and the 
kitten." Marion found Ruth lying upon the 



THE PURIM PUSSY 119 

bed with Queenie resting luxuriously upon a 
silk cushion near by: she recognized it as the 
sofa pillow Sarah had brought as her Shalach- 
monoth. Queenie wore a beautiful blue ribbon 
about her neck, tied in a hugh fluffy bow behind 
her ear, and looked more like a satisfied, well- 
fed . queen-cat than ever. She allowed Marion 
to pet her, but was quite willing to leave her 
lap at Ruth's low call and to curl up for her 
afternoon nap upon her new mistress's arm. 

"I do believe she likes you more than me," 
said Marion a little enviously, "I've always 
heard that cats forget their friends right away, 
but I never believed it. I suppose it's because 
you give her lots of cream and nice things 
to eat and blue ribbons." 

"No, I think it's because I'm at home all day 
and can pet her more than you did," decided 
Ruth. Her face grew very grave. "Mamma 
said she could see how much you cared for 
her when you were here Sunday, and she won- 
dered whether I ought to keep her. Do you 
want her back again?" 

"Well she's only a common every-day cat," 
hesitated Marion, "and if you get tired of her" 

"Why, I think she's the prettiest cat in the 
world," exclaimed Ruth indignantly. "Papa 
said that if you really missed her, I should 
give her back and he'd buy me some kind of 



120 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

a fancy white cat with a bushy tail, but I like 
this one much better, because you didn't buy 
her at a store; she was your very own and 
you gave her to me. That makes her seem more 
of a present than if you bought her the way the 
other girls did their things. " 

Marion's freckled face was radiant. "Oh, I'm 
so glad you like her," she cried, "and I do want 
you to keep her forever and ever. And, any- 
how, I wont miss her very much if you'll let 
me come and see her sometimes." 

"I want you to come to see both of us 
whenever you can," Ruth answered, "and when 
I get well and go back to school, we'll take turns 
keeping her, if you want to." She paused to 
cuddle the kitten's sleek head against her cheek. 
"Won't that be nice pussy?" Then turning 
back to her guest, "Isn't it funny, you never 
told me her name and I forgot to ask!" 

"Oh, I called her 'most anything," Marion 
told her. "I called her Queen of Sheba, or just 
plain Queenie last week, but I was getting sort 
of tired of that. Let's call her something else." 

The two little girls knitted their foreheads in 
thought while the kitten stopped playing with 
the fringe on the silk pillow and tried to look 
wise. "I know!" exclaimed Ruth suddenly, "let's 
name her after my party. Wouldn't it be 
perfectly lovely to call her Turim?' " 



A REAL PASSOVER 

Mendel Rabbinowitz could remember at least 
a half dozen Seders, beginning with those early 
far off Passovers when he was the youngest as 
well as the oldest of the children of the house, 
with the coveted privilege of asking the "four 
questions." Then sister Rose had learned to 
lisp: "Why is this night different from all 
other nights?" aided by frequent promptings 
from Mendel, who looked forward to the time 
when Hose would have to give way to baby 
Simon; for Mendel, like a good many other 
small boys, had a poor opinion of girls and he 
felt that Rose hardly deserved the honor, to 
say nothing of the first chance of hunting for 
the Affikomon and receiving any present she 
might care to ask of her indulgent father. 

But now those days seemed very distant to 
ten year old Mendel. Now those wonderful 
Passover cakes and shiny nuts and sips of 
sweet wine seemed hardly more than beautiful 
dreams seen through the heavy clouds that had 
hovered orer Mendel's home ever since father 
went away to America. To be sure, everything 
promised well at first, when father wrote long 
letters about the "golden land," of his work in 

121 



122 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

a shop and his hope to send for mother and 
the children. "And then," he had written more 
than once, "then Mendel and Kosie will go to 
school and learn to be real Americans. We 
will all be happy here, for in America it is 
safe to be a Jew." 

Mendel had learned all too soon that it was 
not safe to be a Jew in Russia. Shortly after 
his father's departure for America, the great 
war had swept the country, leaving waste and 
ruin behind it. There was scarcely a man, 
woman or child in all Europe who was not 
touched by the horror, but of all those who 
suffered, Mendel's people had the most to bear. 
The Jews were mistrusted and mistreated alike 
by Russians and Germans; those who had been 
wealthy in times of peace now found it hard 
to buy a bit of bread; the very roofs were 
burned above the heads of the unhappy women 
and children whom the fathers had left behind 
as they marched toward the battlefields. And, 
at last, they too went forth, a pitiful army, 
wandering hungry and ragged along the roads 
in search of shelter and food. Last Passover 
had found Mendel, his mother and his little 
brother and sister living in a cellar with a 
handful of other refugees. There had been no 
thought of raisin wine and matzos that year; 
no singing of the Seder hymns; and, if any of 



A REAL PASSOVER 123 

the tired broken people prayed, they did not 
repeat the old Passover prayers of gratitude 
for deliverance from Egypt, but entreated the 
God of their fathers to deliver them from the 
scourge of war and restore their loved ones 
who, they feared, they were never to see again. 

Almost from the outbreak of the war, 
Mendel's mother had received no letter from 
America. Nor could she be certain that the 
few post cards she wrote, all read and stamped 
by the censor before they were allowed to pass, 
ever reached him. She knew how he longed to 
help them, how he missed the children, Mendel 
and Kosie and little Simon, whom he had last 
seen as a baby a few months old; she was sure 
that he was doing his best to send them the 
money orders which had come regularly every 
month ever since he had found work in America. 
But now neither money nor message came to 
cheer them as they huddled in their dark cellar 
and trembled to hear the guns roaring upon 
the nearby battlefields. 

The battle came nearer and nearer. The 
Germans who had captured the village, were 
driven out by the Russians and before Pass- 
over week was over Mendel had seen and 
heard such dreadful things that he sometimes 
felt like one living in a terrible dream. The 
Jews were accused of aiding the Germans, of 



124 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

acting as spies in order to bring about a Rus- 
sian defeat. Several old men were shot al- 
though they were guilty of no crime except that 
of being Jews; while the other Jewish refu- 
gees were driven out upon the roads, and once 
more Mendel and his brother and sister were 
tossed about like tiny paper boats children 
sometimes try to float upon the ponds in sum- 
mer-time. 

But that was a year ago and now it was 
Passover again. Mendel's mother and several 
of her old neighbors had somehow managed to 
live through the long, dreadful winter, to reach 
at last the great ship which bore them across 
the ocean to America. Now they waited at Ellis 
Island, for they could not enter the new land 
until some relative called for them and prom- 
ised them a home. 

And Mendel's father had not come! Mr. 
Boris, the agent of the Immigrants' Society 
who had visited them, said that he had been 
unable to locate Mr. Rabbinowitz, who must 
have left New York during the long interval 
since his family had last heard from him. He 
would do his best to trace Mr. Rabbinowitz, he 
said; but until they heard from him, the fami- 
ly could not take the little ferry boat which 
would bring them to New York, to a real home 
in the land of refuge. 



A REAL PASSOVER 125 

"You promised that we'd all have Seder 
with papa this year," Kosie reproached her 
mother. "I want him to come and get me 
right away. I want him to get me a new dress 
and shoes for Pesach and I want to ask the 
'four questions' the way I used to at home." 

Mrs. Rabbinowitz did not answer her, but 
her lips trembled. Mendel, who during the last 
three years had learned to think of himself as 
the man of the family, tried to divert her and 
laughed teasingly. "I don't believe you re- 
member a single word in Hebrew," he mocked. 
"You can't get any further than 'Why is this 
night?' can you?" and little Kosie had to con- 
fess almost tearfully that she could not. "All 
right, I'll teach you then," Mendel told her 
condescendingly, "only you'll have to pay atten- 
tion and learn fast 'cause father might come 
for us at any time and take us to make Seder 
with him in !N"ew York and you'll want to be 
ready, won't you?" 

Rosie nodded till all her glossy curls seemed 
adancing. "Hurry up and teach me right 
away, Mendy!" She cuddled beside him on the 
long hard bench, too intent upon learning her 
lesson "before father came" to notice her 
mother's tears. But Mendel saw and under- 
stood. Every little while several "real Amer- 
icans", as he called them to himself, would come 



126 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

into the long receiving room, crowded with ben- 
ches on which sat the newcomers from the old 
world, waiting for their friends and relatives. 
Then there would be choking sounds, in which 
he could hardly tell the laughter from the cry- 
ing, quick exclamations of greeting, long and 
tearful embraces. No wonder his mother cried 
as she tried to keep little Simon amused and 
quiet; for all about them other fathers and 
husbands were taking their families away, but 
Mendel's father never came. 

"And I thought we'd be with father in New 
York for Pesach," thought Mendel. "They 
won't let us in without him and if he doesn't 
come at all " but Mendel did not dare to think 
about that. He was only a little boy, but he was 
old enough to understand what Mr. Boris had 
told his mother. What would happen to them 
if father never came and they were not allowed 
to enter the beautiful new world! And they 
were so near, too! Why, at night he could see 
the light flashing in the great hand of the tall 
stone woman standing in the harbor. Jake, 
one of the workers on the Island, told him that 
she was called "Liberty"; that the French peo- 
ple had given her to the United States long ago 
and that year after year she stood there, her 
light welcoming all the wanderers who came to 
find a home in free America. 



A REAL PASSOVER 127 

"I don't know much about pictures and stat- 
ues and those things," Jake told Mendel one 
day, "but I like her a lot." Jake had asked 
Mendel to take a walk with him during the 
noon hour and now they stood on the edge of 
the pier looking across the shining waters that 
lay between them and the white towers of New 
York. Mendel, who had been gazing wonder- 
ingly at the red brick buildings which sheltered 
the immigrants on the Island, the hospital for 
the sick among them a little apart from the 
rest, turned back to Jake who had given him 
his first opportunity of exploring his strange 
surroundings. These buildings, the great white 
statue, the many towers across the harbor, all 
seemed very wonderful to the boy, but none 
quite so wonderful as his new friend. For 
Jake Holzberg, although a Jew, was just like 
other "real Americans" and had been allowed 
to go through school and could travel all over 
the country, he said, without a passport, and 
could even have opened a store or practised 
as a dentist had he wanted to. Visitors to the 
Island saw in him only a lanky young man 
with a heavy shock of hair and small twinkling 
eyes; but Mendel firmly believed that Jake was 
a most unusual person, as he was permitted to 
roam all over the Island, to say nothing of re- 
turning to the enchanted city of New York 



128 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

every evening. As lie walked about with Jake 
that warm April day it seemed almost as if the 
tall buildings across the waters, and even the 
great white statue, belonged to the young boy 
who pointed them out to the little stranger. 

"Yes, I like that statue a lot," Jake repeated. 
"I wasn't much older than you when I came to 
America and I guess I remember the lady with 
the light better than anything else about that 
time. I didn't know what I was getting into 
then, any more than you do; but I knew what 
I was leaving behind just like you. You see, 
my folks were killed in Kishiniev: shot down 
just because they were Jews. And I didn't 
know how it was going to be here. But my 
uncle took me over the ferry to New York and 
the next week I was in school and feeling like 
a genuine American." 

"And weren't they ever mean to you for being 
a Jew like over there?" Mendel marveled, for 
it was hard to believe that all the good things 
Jake told him could be true. 

Jake threw back his tousled head and 
laughed. "It doesn't make a difference here," 
he told Mendel. "You'll find America's a good 
place to live in, all right. I'd rather be a street 
cleaner in little old New York than one of those 
kings or dukes over there in the old country. 
You just see how you're going to enjoy going 
to school and living in America." 



A REAL PASSOVER 129 

"But I don't know if we're ever going to 
get a chance to be Americans," answered Men- 
del wistfully. "You had your uncle to come 
after you, but we've got nobody but father and 
if he doesn't come and get us, they won't let 
us in, will they?" 

"Don't you worry, sonny," Jake assured him, 
trying to appear more hopeful than he felt. 
"Mr. Boris says he's doing all he can to find 
your dad he told me so himself. And while 
you're waiting for him, they're treating you 
pretty nice here, aren't they, so what are you 
fussing about?" 

"It's nice to have a place to sleep," Mendel 
admitted. "Last winter we slept in cellars or 
barns or any place we could find and it was 
dreadfully cold. And I like the good things 
they give us to eat, too. The cook lady in the 
kitchen can't talk Yiddish, but when Rosie and 
I come in there before dinner she always gives 
us a big piece of bread and butter and we're 
never hungry anymore. But," he tried to keep 
his voice from trembling, "I don't want to stay 
here. I want to live in a real house the way 
we did before the war. As soon as we got on 
the ship, mama said: 'Thank God, we will all 
be together this Passover.' But it's just three 
days now till Passover and if papa doesn't come 
for us we can't have a Seder." 



130 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

He blinked hard to keep the tears from his 
eyes and Jake was considerate enough to treat 
him like a man, instead of petting and com- 
forting him as he might have done Rosie. "And 
suppose he don't come," he said cheerfully, 
"won't you be all right here over Passover?" 

"But we haven't had Seder for three years 
and I wanted " 

"Didn't you know we had Seder here for all 
the Jews who can't get ashore before Passover?" 
Jake asked him. "Some people over in New 
York send matzos and fruit and chickens and 
things and we have the finest Seder you ever 
saw in your life. They never let you bring wine 
on the Island any other time, but on Passover 
it's all right, and we have the blessings and 
the prayers and all that." 

"And somebody to ask the 'four questions'?" 
cried Mendel. 

"Sure ! If you know them, I'll speak to Rabbi 
Mx>rris who always arranges things and ask 
him to let you say them. They always pick 
out a little fellow and I guess it would tickle 
your mother," he ended kindly. 

"I know them backwards," bragged Mendel. 
"And I can say them just as fast as the chazan 
used to read in our echul on Friday night." 
Then the joy died out of his eager face as he 
glanced toward Rosie sitting beside her mother. 



A REAL PASSOVER 131 

Some visitor had given her a doll and the little 
girl sat nursing it as she crooned a Yiddish 
lullaby she had often heard her mother sing to 
Baby Simon: 

"Close your eyes, quickly; 
Go to sleep, baby dear; 

Sleep for a little while 

Supper is here." 

It was just like Rosie to be playing with a 
foolish doll instead of worrying like him and 
mother, Mendel reflected bitterly. Kosie never 
worried; she took it for granted that father 
would come and that she would ask the "four 
questions" at their own Seder. And if father 
didn't come, she would most likely enjoy Seder 
on the Island, especially if she were chosen to 
ask the questions and could say them nicely. 
But Mendel knew that one thing would make 
her unhappy; if he were chosen and she would 
have to sit silently by. It was not easy for 
Mendel even to think of refusing such an honor. 
He already saw the long table with the detained 
immigrants around it, the visitors from New 
York, the "real Americans," looking on. He 
knew how proud his mother would be, for he 
was sure that he could recite the hard Hebrew 
words much better than Rosie, and he was cer- 
tain that his father would be delighted to hear 
that he had not forgotten, although it had been 



132 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

so long since Mendel had recited them at their 
own table. Then he remembered his father's 
farewell to him although it seemed many 
years ago, Mendel could recall every word 
"Be a good boy, Mendel, and take good care of 
mama and the children while I'm gone." A 
lump rose in Mendel's throat. He had tried to 
take good care of them, especially Kosie. He 
thought of the dreadful days along the road, 
when she was so tired that he had carried her 
in his aching arms until she was able to walk 
again, the days when she had cried for food 
and he had always given her the biggest portion 
of the scanty bit of bread mother told 
him to divide between them. Kosie was so 
little and weak that it seemed necessary to take 
care of her; but, surely, he wouldn't have to 
keep giving up to her now, when she had plenty 
to eat and even a doll to play with! His voice 
trembled a little as he turned back to Jake 

"I'd like to get the chance to ask 'em, unless 
father comes and takes us away before the 
Seder," he said. 

But the very next morning Kosie came to 
him for her regular lesson. "Hear me say it, 
Mendie," she pleaded. "You won't have to help 
me once." And she rattled off the four ques- 
tions so easily that even her critical brother 
had to confess that she "did them pretty well." 



A REAL PASSOVER 133 

"You're doing much better than yesterday," 
he told her grudgingly. 

Rosie flushed delightedly, for Mendel seldom 
praised her. "I said it all over to my dolly 
about a hundred times after I went to bed last 
night," she explained. "And this morning I said 
it all to Simon while you were going around with 
Jake. And I didn't make one mistake, did I, 
Simon?" 

Simon, a thin-faced youngster with big eyes, 
nodded obediently. He dragged his feet a 
little as he walked and never cared to play 
with Rosie. Perhaps the hardships he had 
known from the time he was little more than a 
baby, had left him so weak and languid. At 
that moment, Mfendel, who was in anything but 
a pleasant humor, was inclined to be crosser 
than ever at Simon's spiritless manner. Wasn't 
it hard enough not to know where his father 
was, he asked himself, without being bothered 
with a silly sister (who recited her lesson to 
a doll!) and a little brother too weak to play 
with him? It's lucky he doesn't know any 
Hebrew or he'd expect me to give up to him the 
same as Rosie and let him say them at the 
Seder, he thought, crossly. 

"Won't papa be glad when I say every word 
right?" Rosie continued happily. "And maybe 
he'll show me where he hides the matzah and 



134 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

he'll give me anything I want when I find it. 
I'm going to ask him to get me a new doll 
to be a sister to Becky," she told Mendel so 
confidently that he just hadn't the heart to 
tell her that father might not be with them at 
the Seder. 

"Who's papa?" asked Simon suddenly. 

Mendel, about to laugh, checked himself. His 
mother had joined the little group in time to 
overhear Simon's question and her face twisted 
with grief. 

"Who's papa? Do I know him?" Simon 
asked her. 

"I guess you've forgotten him," Mendel an- 
swered quickly. "You were just a little baby 
when he went away. But he's going to come 
for us soon and bring you a little toy horse 
and Kosie a doll and mama a new shawl and 
me " 

"He may never come for us," Mendel's mother 
epoke quietly, but the boy realized that she 
had given up all hope. "It would have been 
better if we had all died over there than come 
here to wait forever." She broke oft* suddenly 
and sat down on one of the benches, drawing 
her shawl over her face. Simon climbed into 
her lap, wondering to see his mother cry; while 
Rosie stared at her with unbelieving eyes. But 
Mendel drew her aside. 



A REAL PASSOVER 135 

"She'll be all right soon," he told his little 
sister. "Just go on playing with that crazy 
Becky doll of yours and pretend not to notice 
her." 

But Kosie, who was a wise little body for 
her six years, was not so easily diverted. "Why 
did she say papa wasn't coming for us?" she 
asked, a trifle anxiously. 

Mendel shifted uneasily. "I guess she's 
worried and gets tired of waiting sometimes," 
he explained. 

"But she said he wasn't ever coming. O 
Mendie," she stared at him with frightened 
eyes, "won't he ever come and take us home 
for Seder?" 

"He he may be a little late getting here," 
Mendel hesitated. "You know America's an 
awfully big country Jake told me and if they 
don't find him in New York, he mayn't get 
here until after Passover." 

"But I've learned all my 'questions,' " wailed 
Rosie. "And if he doesn't take us home for Se- 
der, I can't say them." She turned to run to 
her mother for comfort, but Mendel held her 
back. It seemed that although the long journey 
was over and there was plenty to eat, he still 
had to take care of mother and the children 
and "be good" to Rosie. 

"Now don't start your crying," he told her 



136 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

almost roughly. "You're not a baby like Simon 
and you can't have everything you want. May- 
be father will get here in time for Seder, but 
if he doesn't we can have our Seder here just as 
well as not." 

"But mama can't make a Seder, can she, 
and you're not old enough," objected Rosie. 

"Jake told me they have one every year for 
people who can't get over to New York before 
Pesach," explained her brother. "They have 
wine and matzos and everything just the way 
we did at home. And a rabbi to read the pray- 
ers and things and " he paused impressively, 
"the smartest little girl they can get to ask the 
'four questions.' " 

"I know that's me," Rosie positively squealed 
with delight. "I know 'em you said I did and 
you'll ask Jake to let me say them, won't you?" 

"All right. Only you mustn't get scared if 
there are a lot of people there. Now go over 
and tell mama and I'll try to fix it up with 
Jake," promised Mendel rather importantly. 

On Seder night the great dining room at 
Ellis Island was blazing with lights and hung 
with flags. About the tables, with their snowy 
white cloths, sat men, women and children 
from every corner of the earth. During the past 
three years they had lived in one or another of 
the countries at war; many of them had bled 



A REAL PASSOVER 137 

on battlefields for nations that had despised 
and persecuted the Jews; but tonight they sat 
together, natives of Turkey and Belgium, of 
Germany and Morocco, of Palestine and Po- 
land, enemies no longer but bound by the blood 
ties of the brotherhood of Israel. They felt 
that all their old hatreds and doubts were to be 
forgotten forever as they gathered under the 
American flag which gave them all freedom to 
celebrate their old, old feast of deliverance 
from Egypt. 

Mendel glanced down the long table with 
contented eyes. Everything was just as he re- 
membered it at home: the three matzos covered 
with a napkin, the glass dish containing a lamb 
bone, a bit of parsley and root and a boiled egg, 
a bowl filled with a reddish mixture, which his 
father had once told him was called haroseth 
and represented the mortar the Hebrews had 
been forced to make while slaves in Egypt. 
Mendel noticed, too, the great silver goblet of 
wine, which he had been told is always set aside 
for the prophet Elijah. He knew that Elijah 
visits every Seder table on Passover eve and 
that the chair piled high with cushions at the 
rabbi's right hand was for the welcome guest, 
the friend of the Jewish people who will some 
day come to announce their eternal freedom. 
As he thought of all this, Mendel wished hearti- 



138 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

ly that he was little like Simon or a girl like 
Rosie : it would have helped so much to be able 
to have a good cry. The old stories brought 
back his father so very vividly, his father who 
would have been so proud of Kosie tonight, who, 
Mendel felt, might have been proud of him, too, 
for giving Kosie her chance. Why, Jake had 
told him she would even be asked to open the 
door to let Elijah in. He remembered how in 
the old days he had always jumped up joyfully 
at his father's nod, to unlatch the door for the 
prophet. In those days he was always sure that 
he would see Elijah himself dressed in a long 
rough cloak and leaning on a staff, just as the 
rabbi in Cheder had described him. In those 
days, too, Mendel had believed that Elijah would 
bring him anything he wanted, that is, if he 
had been a good boy and had studied his les- 
sons in Cheder, to say nothing of helping 
mother about the house. Although he felt very 
grown up now, almost a man and the head of 
a family, he found himself wishing that he 
might open the door for Elijah, half believing 
that he would really catch a glimpse of the old 
man before he passed. 

"And I'd ask him to send father for us soon," 
thought Mendel, "that next year we could 
have Passover together." 

Rabbi Morris had started the service. He 



A REAL PASSOVER 139 

was a tall, broad-shouldered man with a heavy 
black beard; his eyes smiling below his little 
skull cap seemed to embrace every one at the 
table, before they came back to where Rosie 
and Mendel sat beside him. Jake had told 
Mendel that the rabbi had no children of his 
own ; perhaps that was why he had petted Rosie 
so much before the Seder began and given her 
a pair of bright-red hair ribbons. Even now 
Rosie was patting and pulling them into a 
perkier bow above her curls, in spite of her 
mother's frown of disapproval. Being a very 
little girl she was almost as excited over her 
new ribbons as at the prospect of asking the 
"four questions". 

"Roschen, you will spoil your ribbons keep 
your hands down," warned her mother. 

"And stick your doll under the table," whis- 
pered Mendel. "I don't see why you brought it 
along for, anyhow?" 

Rabbi Morris turned a page of his haggadah. 
"Now, daughter," he smiled at Rosie, "stand 
up that everybody may hear you and ask me 
the 'four questions.' " 

Rosie, still clutching her doll, rose to her feet. 
Her cheeks were as flushed as her ribbons; her 
free hand clung desperately to Mendel's coat 
sleeve. "I'm afraid," she faltered, "I'm going 
to be afraid." 



140 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Mendel looked stern. "Go ahead," he whis- 
pered, hoarsely, "or " making the most severe 
threat he could think of at that moment "or 
I'll say them myself. Begin 'Why is this 
night ?' Now go ahead!" 

"Why is this night different than any other 
night?" began Rosie, her voice shrill with ner- 
vousness, but growing calmer as she went on 
with the old questions which the youngest child 
asks in Hebrew on the eve of Passover. She 
went on bravely, asking why matzos instead of 
leavened bread were served, why bitter herbs 
were eaten, why the rabbi reclined upon the 
cushions of his chair instead of sitting upright 
as at other meals. And Rabbi Morris answered 
each question in the old Hebrew phrases, 
explaining that Passover was a memorial of 
the deliverance of the Jewish people from 
Egypt; how, since the bitterness of slavery was 
over, every Jew might lie upon cushions like a 
prince as he ate of the unleavened bread his 
fathers had eaten when they journeyed into 
freedom. 

A murmur of applause arose as Rosie sank 
back into her seat. "I didn't leave out a word," 
she told Mendel in a triumphant whisper. "But 
why is mama crying?" 

"I guess it's because she's so proud of you," 
he whispered back. "Now sit still and listen 



A REAL PASSOVER 141 

to the rest of the Seder and soon we can begin 
to eat." 

But the rest of the service seemed very long 
to little Rosie. It grew very late and her head 
with its bright bows of ribbon was already 
nodding sleepily by the time she received her 
plate piled high with chicken and stewed fruit 
and matzah dumplings. Mendel nudged her 
and she began to eat, but he could see that it 
was an effort for her to keep her eyes open. 

"Don't you go to sleep," he warned, "or you 
won't get a chance to open the door for Elijah, 
when Rabbi Morris tells you." 

"Mustn't go to sleep," repeated Rosie drow- 
sily, but a few moments later she dropped her 
fork, and, cuddling her doll in her lap, rested 
her head on Mendel's shoulder. "Not going to 
sleep must open door," she murmured, but be- 
fore the meal was over and Rabbi Morris had 
called for the blessing, the little girl was fast 
asleep, a bit of matzah still clutched in her 
hand. 

Rabbi Morris smiled at Mendel. "It is too 
long for such a little one to stay awake," he 
said. "She cannot open the door, but you will 
do it, yes?" 

Mendel nodded. At least he would play his 
part in the service after all. And it didn't hurt 
quit so much now to have given up to Rosie, 



142 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

for she had done so well and mother had been 
so proud; besides half of his pleasure would 
have been lost, anyhow, for Jake wouldn't have 
been there to hear him. He wondered where 
Jake was and why he hadn't come to the 
Seder as he had promised. Then he turned to 
his haggadah again and followed as best he 
could the long passages of praise and prayer. 

"Bring us next year to Jerusalem" ran one 
of them "Rebuild our Temple", was the burden 
of another prayer. And Mendel repeated the 
Hebrew but in his heart he prayed again and 
again "I want my father I want him to come 
for us." It seemed the service would never 
end; he grew more and more tired and wished 
that Rosie wouldn't lean so heavily upon his 
shoulder. "I want my father," he repeated 
wearily. 

At last Kabbi Morris leaned over and touched 
his arm. "Now, sonny," he said, "now go 
to the door and open it for Elijah." 

Mendel placed Rosie gently back in her chair 
and walked to the door. He felt his heart 
beating a little faster as he opened it. He was 
a very little boy again almost certain of catch- 
ing a glimpse of the long brown cloak before 
the prophet hurried away. As he opened the 
door he heard steps in the hall: some one was 
coming toward him down the dark passage. "If 



A REAL PASSOVER 143 

it's Elijah !" thought Mendel, his hand trembling 
on the doorknob. 

But his face clouded with disappointment as 
he recognized Jake. The young fellow flashed 
a smile at him before he turned and pointed 
over Ms shoulder. "I got him," he said briefly. 
"Come right in, Mr. Rabbinowitz, and I'll get 
you a seat so we won't make any fuss and 
disturb the Seder. Here, Md, be quiet" for 
Mendel, unheeding his warning, forgetful of the 
many strangers waiting at the tables, pushed 
past Jake and flung himself into his father's 
arms. 

"Papa, papa," he cried, "I knew you would 
come for us." 

He said no more, for Mrs. Rabbinowitz had 
started to her feet with a wild cry of recogni- 
tion. She hurried to her husband's side carry- 
ing little Simon in her arms, while Rosie, 
awakened by all the tumult, stumbled sleepily 
after. 

"Is it time to open the door for Elijah? Is 
that him?" she asked Mendel, rubbing her eyes 
and pointing to the stranger at the door. 

Mendel laughed rather doubtfully. "You silly 
thing," he chided her, "I knew papa right away 
and you didn't remember him at all." 

It was a little hard to go on with the Seder 
after that, for among those about the table were 



144 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

many men and women still waiting for missing 
ones who might never come for them. But at 
last, Rabbi Morris, with tears trickling down 
his kindly face, opened his haggadah and pre- 
pared to complete the service. 

So it was not until the next day that Mendel 
heard why his father had been so long in com- 
ing. Then Mr. Eabbinowitz told his family 
how two years before he had gone to South 
Carolina and opened a little store, gradually 
losing touch with his New York friends, al- 
though he had never ceased trying to learn the 
whereabouts of his wife and children. Only 
two days before he had received a telegram 
from the Immigrant Society that had traced 
him at last. Jake, knowing how much it would 
mean to all of them not to delay their meeting 
even until the next day, had promised the so- 
ciety's agent to meet Mr. Rabbinowitz at the 
train and had brought him straight to the Seder. 

"You should have heard how nice I asked 
the 'four questions,' papa," Rosie told him as 
they stood waiting for the ferry to take them 
over to New York. 

Her father patted her head, but he looked 
smilingly toward Mendel. "Mama told me 
all about it," he assured her, "and I was very 
proud of my little girl. And when Jake brought 
me over here last night he told me something 



A REAL PASSOVER 145 

that made me just as proud of Mendel. It was 
a fine thing, Mendel, to let her say them in- 
stead of you." 

"It wasn't much," Mendel mumbled, but he 
felt very happy. 

Eosie didn't understand just what they were 
talking about, but she guessed that Mendel had 
been good to her and wanted to thank him. Al- 
though she knew he hated to be kissed, she 
cuddled up to him and tried to pull his face 
down to hers. "You're a nice boy, Mendie, to 
teach me the questions, and I want to thank 
you," she told him. 

Mendel saw that his father and mother were 
talking together and that the other immigrants 
who were to leave the Island with them did 
not seem to take any notice of their little group. 
Feeling unusually tender toward Rosie, he bent 
down and kissed her. She lifted her stupid 
doll to his mouth and smiled innocently. "Kiss 
my dolly, too," she commanded. 

But Mendel felt that he had done enough. 
"We can get on the boat now," he said abruptly, 
as he helped his father with the luggage. Across 
the shining harbor he could see the tall white 
towers of New York; they seemed to smile a 
welcome to the wanderers. "I'm glad I'm 
going to live in America," Mendel said to 
himself as he led his little sister over the gang 
plank. 




Myer liked his Uncle Harry better than all 
his other uncles, for Uncle Harry, although he 
was so tall and strong, was very much of a 
small boy at heart. He knew that little boys 
like Myer are fond of candy, and always had 
his pockets stuffed with sweets whenever he 
came to visit Myer's parents. He guessed, too, 
that small nephews prefer books about Indians 
and African hunters to the volumes of Bible 
stories and useful presents his other uncles are 
likely to give him; and, since Uncle Harry had 
traveled "all over the world," or, at least it 
seemed so to Myer, he was able to tell him 
the most wonderful stories of cowboys and 
Indians and of the time a bear had chased him 
and almost got him, too! No wonder, then, 
that Myer loved this splendid uncle so much 
and could hardly wait for his visits. 

On a certain spring day, Uncle Harry ar- 
rived unexpectedly with three bags of candy 
and the finest present he had ever brought his 
lephew : a little Indian suit, feathered headdress, 
strings of colored beads, and, best of all, a 

147 



148 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

bow of shining wood with three red-tipped ar- 
rows. Myer gave a whoop of delight when 
he saw the bow and arrows, but when he tried 
to pull the string he found that try as he 
would he could not bend the heavy bow. 

"Are you holding it right?" asked Uncle 
Harry, who was sitting on the porch smiling 
like a boy over his nephew's delight in the new 
toys. "See, this is the way." He deftly fitted 
an arrow and sent it skimming across the grass. 
Perhaps he meant to hit the big willow tree 
just beginning to show its delicate green leaves ; 
instead he grazed the family cat who had come 
out on the steps to see the fun. Pussy gave 
him an indignant look, then, more frightened 
than hurt, ran yowling to the fence where she 
sat eyeing him with an injured expression for 
the rest of the afternoon. 

Myer couldn't help laughing at kitty's dis- 
comfiture, but he grew suddenly sober as he 
looked over the bow. "I'm afraid I'm not 
strong enough to pull the string," he admitted, 
ruefully. "I can pull Dan's all right. Why 
didn't you bring me a smaller one?" 

"That's not very polite," reproved Myer's 
mother from her porch chair, but Uncle Harry 
had to admit that he deserved a scolding. 

"I liked the looks of it," he confessed, "and 
I guess I forgot you were only seven and got 



THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND 149 

you mixed with your cousin Marcus in New 
York. He's so much bigger than you, and " 

"I'm a big boy, too," asserted Myer, a little 
indignant. "I why, I can fight Dan and 
every boy in my room at school," he ended, 
boastingly. 

"You wouldn't think he was a big boy if you 
knew how lazy and careless he gets sometimes," 
scolded Myer's mother, who seemed to think it 
might do him good to be made to feel a little 
ashamed before his favorite uncle. "You know 
we haven't a Sabbath School here because there 
are so few Jewish children in Mandelville and 
we have old Mr. Delson give Myer a Hebrew 
lesson twice a week. And I've heard our 'big 
boy' say that Hebrew's too hard to learn and 
he wishes he could wait till he was older." 

"Well, it is hard," protested Myer, "and it 
seems he's always coming just when I want to 
go somewhere with Dan or play with the boys. 
But I don't have to take a lesson this afternoon, 
do I, mama?" he coaxed. "Let me skip one 
this week and stay and talk with Uncle Harry." 

But his mother shook her head smilingly and 
at four that afternoon Myer, feeling very much 
abused to have to sit studying Hebrew when he 
wanted to be walking with Uncle Harry, opened 
his book with a scowl and made up his mind 
that if he ever grew up, he'd never look into 



150 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

another Hebrew book no, sir! he'd go west 
with Uncle Harry and shoot Indians. He 
reached across the table for his precious bow 
and arrows which he could not trust out of his 
sight. If he were only big enough to use them 
now! 

When old Mr. Delson entered the room a 
few moments later, a smile crossed his kindly, 
wrinkled face as he picked up the great bow 
and examined it. "So it is almost Lag B'omer," 
he said, more to himself than to Myer. "And 
the children already have their bows and ar- 
rows." 

But Myer did not understand. "What have 
bows and arrows got to do with Lag B'omer?" 
he asked. 

"When you have your lesson," began the old 
man, but Myer was only too glad to have a 
chance to listen instead of reciting the passages 
he had prepared so poorly. 

"Please tell me a little about Lag B'omer 
first," he pleaded. "Is it a Jewish holiday? 
Why did my bow make you think of it?" 

Mr. Delson smiled and a wistful look crept 
into his faded eyes. "In America the boys and 
girls do not know when we have Lag B'omer," 
he said, almost sadly, "but when I was a boy 
over in the old country " he leaned back in 
his chair, his white beard sweeping his breast, 
his eyes looking far away. 



THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND 151 

"And you used to keep Lag B'omer over 
there?" Myer prompted Mm. 

"Yes. It came in the spring time just when 
we Cheder boys were so glad to run away from 
our books. We were not like little American 
boys who want to study all the time and 
never like vacations," he teased his pupil. "It 
came between Pesach (ah, we have no such 
Seders in America!) and Shabuoth; it was 
the thirty-third day of the days when we used 
to count the omer in Palestine. You remember 
I told you all about it, Myer?" 

But Myer had to confess that he had for- 
gotten. 

"When we had our own country and our own 
Temple," went on the old man, "we used to 
offer up our omer of barley about seven pints 
the way we measure grain nowadays. These 
'omer days' became sad ones for our people, who 
never forgot a dreadful plague that carried 
away many of them during that season. But 
there is a story that this plague stopped on Lag 
B'omer because the pupils of Rabbi Akiba 
prayed that the people might be spared. So 
during the dark 'omer days' our teacher picked 
out Lag B'omer for the 'scholars' holiday.' On 
that day they permitted marriages which were 
forbidden during the rest of the seven weeks 
between Pesach and Shabuoth; and they used 



152 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

to give their pupils a long holiday and take 
them into the fields to remind them that once 
the Jewish people were free and had fields and 
woods of their own. It is an old, old custom 
and yet even today my little grandsons in the 
old country are looking forward to their holiday 
on Lag B'omer and are making bows and ar- 
rows to carry when their teachers take them 
out into the fields." 

"But why must they carry bows and arrows?" 
persisted Myer. 

"Some people say it is to remember Simeon 
ben Yohai. When the Romans conquered Pales- 
tine, he had to live in a cave for fourteen 
years; if they had found him they would have 
put him to death for teaching the Law to the 
Jewish people. The story says that he died on 
Lag B'omer and that at his death the rainbow, 
which had not been seen during his life, ap- 
peared again in the sky. Simeon ben Yohai 
had said that before the Messiah came to free 
the Jewish people from their enemies a great 
bow of many colors would appear in the 
heavens; so whenever they saw the school chil- 
dren carrying toy bows shaped like the rain- 
bow, it gave them hope that some day a great 
leader would come again to lead them in battle 
like Rabbi Akiba and Bar Kochba." 

"Was Rabbi Akiba a soldier?" asked Myer 



THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND 153 

wonderingly. "I thought rabbis were old men 
who just studied and taught people." 

"He was one of the bravest soldiers we ever 
had," answered Myer's teacher warmly. "Al- 
though the Romans forbade all the rabbis to 
teach the Jewish law, he kept on instructing 
his pupils until he was thrown into prison. 
There he was put to death by cruel tortures, 
and when they wondered to see him bear his 
sufferings with a smile, he said: 'Every day of 
my life I have repeated the Shema. Today for 
the first time I feel what it is to love the 
Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul 
and all my strength. That is why I rejoice 
in all my pain.' Yes, he knew how to fight 
for the Law although he was not a real soldier. 
And he did all he could to persuade soldiers 
to follow Bar Kochba, for he believed God had 
sent him to deliver the Jewish people from the 
Romans." He opened his book, but Myer equally 
anxious to postpone his lesson and hear about 
the "real soldier," stopped him. 

"Please, Mr. Delson," he coaxed, "tell me 
about Bar Kochba, too. I know mama will 
want me to know all about Lag B'omer and 
I like stories better than my regular lessons." 

"Then a little holiday because it is almost 
Lag B'omer," smiled the indulgent teacher. 
"Only I expect a very good lesson next time! 



154 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

It would take too long to tell you all about 
Bar Kochba, but some day when you know 
more Hebrew you will read all about him your- 
self. A good many people thought, like Rabbi 
Akiba, that his name meant 'son of a star' and 
they believed he would be a Star of Hope to 
the Jewish people and make them free again. 
But after he had failed to help them and shown 
himself a weak and wicked man, those who had 
trusted him changed his name to 'son of a lie.' 

"How could he be a great soldier if he was a 
'weak man'?" demanded Myer. 

"He was a brave leader and was strong 
enough to fight lions and hurl great stones; 
there are a great many stories of his physical 
strength; but he wasn't strong enough to con- 
trol his own evil nature and there are other 
stories which show why the people soon learned 
to fear and mistrust him. And so he died with- 
out bringing us our freedom and the Jewish 
people knew that they would have to wait a 
little longer before their real Messiah came to 
lead them out of slavery." He rose heavily. 
"Sometimes we grow tired of waiting; but on 
Lag B'omer when we hear the children laughing 
and playing in the fields, it is not so hard to 
hope. Some day one of these children may 
become a great soldier for our people." He 
gathered up his books. "I see your father 



THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND 155 

coming down the street, so it must be late. 
Have a good lesson next time and don't forget 
what your bow means when you play with it," 
he smiled as he went down the path. 

"I wonder what he meant by boys growing 
up to be soldiers for the Jews," thought Myer 
as he watched the bent old man passing through 
the gate. He picked up his bow lovingly. "If 
a man like Bar Kochba would come around 
again, Dan and Uncle Harry and I would help 
him fight!" 

That evening Myer, who had listened open- 
mouthed to Uncle Harry's tales of his adven- 
tures in the west, went upstairs to bed very 
reluctantly, carrying his precious bow and ar- 
rows with him. He laid them on his pillow, 
emiling to think what great fun he and Dan 
would have when they set up a target in the 
back yard and learned to shoot "just like Bar 
Kochba and his soldiers." The boy was very 
tired, for it was past his usual bedtime; yet 
when he was once in bed, he could not fall 
asleep but lay dreamily watching the moon- 
light as it streamed through the open window 
and flowed like a silvery stream across the 
bow and arrows lying upon the pillow. He 
began to think of the stories Mr. Delson had 
told him; with his half-closed eyes he seemed 
to see the old man sitting beside his bed, his 



156 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

wrinkled face glowing with pride as he told 
him the stories of Akiba and Bar Kochba. 
Myer wondered why his teacher's voice seemed 
to come from such a long distance far, far 
off until he couldn't hear it any more only 
the sound of rushing waters and the murmur of 
swaying trees. Slowly he opened his eyes to 
find himself beside a foaming stream that 
dashed between the rocky banks. All around 
him were great trees, swaying sadly in the wind, 
while the place was filled with a dim light that 
was neither of the sun nor the moon, and he 
became afraid. 

Then, as Myer stood trembling beneath the 
great trees, he saw a strong young man as tall 
and broad-shouldered as his Uncle Harry, strid- 
ing toward him, and he felt that the stranger 
must be Bar Kochba. The hero carried a great 
bow ; he did not speak as he came to Myer, but, 
thrusting the bow into the boy's hand, signed to 
him to try to draw the string. Myer tugged 
with all his might, but he was not strong enough 
to pull it, and he cried bitterly, for the tall 
man seemed very angry as he snatched his bow 
away and disappeared among the trees. 

But in his place stood an old man with a 
beautiful long white beard which made him look 
strangely like old Mr. Delson. He carried 
no weapons, only a scroll such as Myer had 



THE BOW THAT WOULD NOT BEND 157 

seen his own grandfather read when called up 
to the reader's desk in the synagogue. The 
old man opened the scroll before him and Myer 
timidly read the Hebrew words he never had 
been able to read before: "Blessed be He who 
gave unto His people the Law in His holiness." 
Then the old man spoke gently: 

"Why were you weeping, my son?" 

"I couldn't pull the string of Bar Kochba's 
bow. I am afraid I will never be strong enough 
to fight," Myer answered. 

The old man smiled. "Nay, for I also fought 
for my people though my arms were weak with 
age. Do not grieve, little son, for did you not 
show me just now that you are already learning 
to use the greater weapon of our people? The 
bow of Bar Kochba will never be strung again, 
for we are indeed a people of peace. But the 
Law for which I and my brethren suffered 
and died will endure forever; and this Law 
you must learn diligently and love with all your 
heart and with all your soul and with all your 
might." 

As he spoke a great light seemed to shine 
from the Torah he carried, and fill the place. 
The light fell on the bow upon the pillow and 
across Myer's face; he opened his eyes to find 
himself in his own little bed with his mother 
bending over him. 



158 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"I thought the sunlight would wake you up 
when I pulled the curtains," smiled mother. 
"What a lazy little boy! Hurry and get up 
or you'll be late for school. There's no use 
pretending to be half awake," she added se- 
verely, as Myer lay blinking stupidly at the 
sunshine. "I know you had a good night's 
sleep." 

But Myer knew better! 



CLOTHES 

A Shabuoth Story 

The girls of the Confirmation class of Temple 
Emanuel sat in the vestry room discussing a 
most important problem. It was just a month 
before Shabuoth and they felt that they must 
decide at once just what they would wear for 
Confirmation. As every girl had ideas of her 
own and all were equally sure that their sug- 
gestions were the best, it was rather hard to 
come to any decision, although they had been 
arguing more or less excitedly ever since Rabbi 
Louison had dismissed the Confirmation class 
over an hour before. 

"Well, we'll all have to look just alike," de- 
clared Irene Perlman with her pretty air of 
decision which made her a born leader among 
her friends. "I went to my cousin's Confirma- 
tion last Shabuoth and the girls wore anything 
they pleased; why, one of them actually had on 
tan slippers, and, girls, it was positively awful. 
We just must decide what we're all going to 
wear and stick to it." 

"I hate white slippers," announced Rae, "they 
always make my feet look enormous." 

159 



160 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"They're the only thing to wear," protested 
Deborah. "They don't make your feet look a 
bit bigger if you get nice kid ones." 

"But aren't kid slippers very expensive?" 
asked Marion timidly. She knew that her aunt 
with whom she lived would object to spending 
a cent extra on what she liked to call "non- 
sense." Fortunately, her grandfather had prom- 
ised to pay for her Confirmation outfit, but 
Marion thought it safest to be as economical 
as she could. 

"We're only confirmed once in our lives and 
we have a right to get just what we want," 
insisted Irene. "Anyhow, it always pays to get 
the best, mother says, and if we get nice kid 
slippers we can wear them to dancing school 
all next winter." 

"That will mean silk stockings, I suppose," 
ventured Deborah. "I guess you're right, 
though; we ought to have everything just as 
nice as we can. Only it's going to cost a 
good deal with long gloves and our bouquets 
and all that." 

"But won't we look just great?" laughed her 
cousin Frieda. "I'm glad if the rest of you 
girls decide to get a lot of expensive things; 
then mama will have to give in and get me 
what the others have whether she wants to or 
not. And let's have our dresses made out of 



CLOTHES 161 

the same material, too. I think net lace would 
be lovely." 

Here Ida Baum, who had not spoken once 
during the meeting, stood up and began to 
fasten her plain little jacket. "I'm sorry I 
can't stay any longer, girls," she said as she 
gathered up her Confirmation note book and 
papers, "but I promised mother I'd be home as 
early as I could. She isn't very well today 
and I'll have to help in the store." She turned 
to Irene. "You can tell me what you girls 
have decided when you see me at school to- 
morrow. 'Bye, everybody," and she left the 
room. 

"It's a pity she can't take more interest in 
things when she's valedictorian," Rae whispered 
to Frieda. 

But Irene had the floor again. "It's no use 
talking and talking and talking," she said im- 
pressively. "As long as we're all sure we're 
going to have everything alike we may as well 
vote now on what we want. First, how many 
want white kid slippers?" Every hand went 
up, Marion's last of all. "Now for silk stock- 
ings." She laughed happily. "Girls, if those 
horrid boys don't spoil everything, we're going 
to be the nicest looking class that was ever 
confirmed in this temple!" 

It was almost six o'clock when Irene and 



162 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Deborah, who lived next door, walked home to- 
gether. "I suppose mama will make a fuss 
when I tell her what we've decided on," Irene 
said a little doubtfully. "She's always preach- 
ing that she hates to see little girls overdressed. 
Little girls!" She laughed at the thought. 
"Why, I'm fourteen in July and I could pass 
for fifteen any day if mama'd let me wear my 
hair up like Frieda." 

"I'm afraid my mother won't like the idea 
of such a fancy dress either," Deborah an- 
swered. "I couldn't say anything about it at 
the meeting with Marion and Ida right there, 
but mother was saying the other day that she 
thought we ought to be very careful not to 
wear anything for Confirmation that the poor- 
est girl in the class couldn't afford. Only I 
didn't see how I could say anything this after- 
noon," she ended doubtfully. 

"Oh, anybody can afford what we decided on," 
Irene asserted easily. "I'm going to have my 
dress made at Mrs. Breen's she's very expen- 
sive, you know. But the girls who have to save 
money can get their dresses made at home; 
and even if the other things are a little high 
they can save on the rest of their summer 
clothes. Anyhow, I don't see why you and I 
have to look shabby because they can't look 
nice." 



CLOTHES 163 

"But if it's going to be hard for Marion and 
Ida," suggested Deborah a little timidly, for 
she was always rather uncertain when she op- 
posed Irene in any of her decided opinions. 
"I know Marion's aunt can afford to get her 
anything she needs, although she's sort of queer 
and may make a fuss about it; but I don't see 
how Ida can afford to fix up like the rest of us. 
Rae told me that her father's dead and I guess 
her brother is only a young boy, so he doesn't 
earn much and they live behind that little store 
they have right near school. So they must be 
rather poor; you know yourself that Ida never 
dresses up for our parties like the rest of us." 

"Oh, that's because she's so queer and isn't 
interested in clothes," decided Irene. "I'm in 
her room at school and I know her better than 
you do. She's always got her nose in a book, 
even at recess. Of course, she gets high marks 
but I think it's better to have a little fun 
once in a while. And you know how she listens 
to every word Rabbi Louison says in Con- 
firmation class. I suppose that's why she stood 
highest in the examination last week and he 
made her valedictorian. Only I wish he'd picked 
out a girl with more style. Now Ruth would 
have looked too sweet for anything up on the 
platform and he didn't give her any part but 
the closing prayer." 



164 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

They had now reached the handsome apart- 
ment house where Irene lived and she hurried 
up the stairs as she caught sight of her mother 
waiting for her at the window. "I'm afraid 
we're awfully late," she called back over her 
shoulder. "And don't you worry about Ida; 
I'll fix it up with her at school." 

Mrs. Perlman met her at the door. "You're 
very late, Irene," she chided. "Papa was get- 
ting quite worried about you. No, don't stop 
to tell me what delayed you, but get ready for 
dinner right away. We were just ready to sit 
down when you came." 

Irene lost no time in washing her hands and 
face and brushing back the pretty curls which 
her mother would not allow her to "put up" 
in a fashionable knot. Then she hurried into 
the dining room, kissed her father and slipped 
into her place, too hungry at first to stop eat- 
ing her soup, even to discuss the matter which 
was uppermost in her mind. But by the time 
her plate was empty she was ready for con- 
versation. 

"Mother," she began, "do you know there's 
just about a month before Confirmation and 
we haven't even started to talk about my dress !" 

"There's plenty of time," Mrs. Perlman as- 
sured her easily, although a worried little 
wrinkle appeared between her eyes. She knew 



CLOTHES 165 

Irene's weakness for pretty clothes and always 
sensed a struggle when that particular young 
lady needed a new dress. "I suppose some 
pretty white dress will do; maybe the one I 
made you for dancing school last month." 

But Irene was perfectly horrified. "Don't 
you understand that I'll never be confirmed 
again!" she exclaimed. "Why, it's the most 
important thing that's ever happened to me 
and I've got a perfect record in attendance for 
the last two years and I'm about ninth in my 
class, too." 

"I think a little girl with a record like that 
certainly deserves a pretty new dress," com- 
mented her father indulgently. Irene was the 
only child and sometimes he found it hard not 
to spoil his little daughter. 

"I'll need a lot of new things," Irene told 
him impressively. "New white kid slippers and 
silk stockings and long gloves. We talked it 
all over at our class meeting this afternoon and 
all of us girls decided to dress just as much 
alike as we could. You know, it would spoil 
everything if one or two of the girls wore black 
shoes and stockings and the others didn't." 

"But are you sure all the girls in your class 
can afford to get such an elaborate outfit?" 
questioned Mrs. Perlman. "Perhaps there will 
be a few whose fathers can't buy them anything 
but very (simple clothes." 



166 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"All the girls said they'd get just what the 
others did," Irene assured her. "Even Marion, 
though she never dresses up or goes out like 
the rest of us. And Ida Baum wasn't there 
when we decided on everything; she had to go 
home early. Rae says that her father is dead, 
but she's got a brother working and I guess 
she can get what the others do if she wants to," 
she ended easily. 

But the next day at school, Irene felt a little 
less confident when she told Ida of the plans the 
girls of the Confirmation class had made for 
their "outfits." "You remember we all decided 
to dress alike," Irene explained. "I guess lace 
net costs a lot; but it always pays to buy 
something good and maybe we can have these 
dresses made over when we graduate from high 
school. Do you think your mother will get you 
everything?" she ended rather doubtfully, for 
Ida did look decidedly shabby, not at all like a 
girl who could afford lace dresses and silk 
stockings. 

"I don't know," answered Ida slowly. "Per- 
haps, if I tell her that all the other girls are 
going to dress alike, she'll get me what I need." 

"And tell her you'll have to look especially 
nice, because you're to be valedictorian," urged 
Irene. "Why, it's going to spoil everything if 
you don't make a good appearance." 



CLOTHES 167 

Ida's plain brown face flushed painfully. 
Then, realizing that her thoughtless classmate 
did not mean to be unkind, she answered quietly, 
"I'll talk it over at home and I guess every- 
thing will be all right. Anyhow, I'll let you 
know tomorrow." 

But as she thought over the situation on the 
way home, Ida was not so certain that every- 
thing would be all right. Although she was 
hardly fourteen, her mother had been nervous 
and ailing so long that it seemed quite natural 
for her big brother Ezra to talk over all of the 
family trouble with Ida and the little girl knew 
only too well how hard it was for him to pay 
the rent and the grocery bills, to say nothing of 
buying new clothes. "But this is something 
very important," she told herself, "especially as 
I'm valedictorian. I just can't go in my last 
summer's white dress and a pair of cheap white 
shoes. Irene's right ; it would spoil everything." 

When Ida entered the store, she found her 
mother sitting behind the low counter, her wor- 
ried face bent over a letter. "It's from grand- 
ma," she explained, "and sister says she's very 
poorly. I wish I could manage to go to see 
her this summer. She's almost eighty, you 
know, and if I wait too long " she broke off 
abruptly; but Ida understood. She realized 
how she would feel if her own mother were 



168 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

old and feeble and wanted to see her before she 
died. "But Canada's such a long way off," went 
on Mrs. Baum heavily, "and I know the fare 
would be dreadfully high, even if I went on an 
excursion. Don't say anything about it to 
Ezra. He's such a good boy, it would make 
him feel bad that he can't send me to see 
grandma." 

Ida promised, a jealous little pain stirring 
in her heart. No one knew better than she 
what a devoted son and brother Ezra was; 
yet it hurt sometimes to feel that her mother 
depended entirely upon him. "I suppose it's 
because he gets a good salary and looks after 
her, while I'm just an expense," she thought 
bitterly as she put away her hat and jacket. 
"I wish I were grown up and through Normal 
School; it would feel mighty good to be a 
teacher and make enough to help pay the rent 
and buy my own clothes." 

When her mother went to prepare supper, Ida 
took her school books into the store and while 
waiting for customers began to study her lessons 
for the next day. But for once she found it 
hard to keep her mind on her work. Thoughts 
of lace net mingled with her history dates; 
when she tried to concentrate on her grammar 
lesson, she found her mind wandering to such 
tantalizing subjects as silk stockings and long 



CLOTHES 169 

white gloves. She saw herself dressed in all the 
Confirmation finery that Irene had told her the 
girls intended to wear; then smiled grimly as 
she pictured herself in the last year's white 
dress she knew her mother expected her to use, 
without gloves, wearing cheap slippers and 
stockings. "I can't do it, I just can't do it!" 
she repeated fiercely. "I'm ugly anyhow and 
I know the girls all think I haven't any style. 
So how can I stand up before everybody and 
make that long speech in my old clothes!" 

She was very quiet at supper, but her mother 
was too absorbed in her letter from Canada to 
realize that the child seemed worried and ab- 
sent-minded. As soon as the dishes were put 
away, Mrs. Baum complained of a headache 
and went to bed. Ida sat down to finish her 
neglected lessons and wait for Ezra who was 
working late and would want a little supper 
when he came home. It was almost ten o'clock 
when he sat down to the table, hungry and 
tired after a long day's work, but not too worn 
out to notice Ida's troubled manner and to ask 
kindly: "What's the matter, girlie? Didn't you 
get on well at school today?" 

"Everything's all right there. But it's it's 
my Confirmation." 

"Well, isn't that all right, too? Aren't you 
going to be valedictorian?" 



170 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"That's the trouble." Hesitating a little, 
for how could a man understand what a new 
dress would mean to her, Ida told her diffi- 
culties. "I know you think I'm silly," she 
ended timidly. 

Ezra pushed back his empty plate. "Not a 
bit," he reassured her. "Though I do think 
the young ladies in your class are pretty foolish 
for making a lot of trouble for some of you. 
Why do they want to dress up like a lot of 
dolls? Anyhow," abruptly, "the trouble's 
started, and we'll have to see it through. Going 
to cost much?" 

"A great deal," admitted his sister. "I 
haven't spoken to mama about it, but I know 
how high everything is just now and " 

"Well, don't say a word to her about it just 
yet," counselled Ezra. "She's got worries 
enough. And I've got a little money put away 
maybe I can see you through." 

"It's all right, mama," Irene cried the next 
afternoon as she ran into the living room. "Ida 
told me that we should all wear what we 
wanted to and that she'd manage not to 'spoil 
the effect.' Wasn't that a funny way to put 
it? And when are you going to start on my 
dress?" 

"I think you little girls are very foolish," 
warned Mrs. Perlman. "I hate to see children 



CLOTHES 171 

your age dressed in such, expensive material. 
But I'll tell Mrs. Breen to make it very simply." 

Irene gave a cry of protest. "It would spoil 
that lovely lace to make it just like an every- 
day dress. I saw the prettiest pattern in your 
magazine the other day," and she ran off for 
the fashion book. Nor was she satisfied until 
her mother had reluctantly promised to allow 
her to have the new dress just as elaborate as 
the one Irene admired. 

Mrs. Perlman took Irene to the dressmaker's 
several days later and smiled in spite of her- 
self at the child's seriousness. For it was evi- 
dent that Irene was far more concerned over 
the drapery of her skirt and the length of her 
sleeves than anything else connected with her 
Confirmation. It worried her mother a little, 
too. Sometimes she feared that the little girl 
was growing vain and selfish. 

On the way home they met Ida, her last year's 
hat looking painfully faded in the bright May 
sunshine. She smiled shyly and passed on. 
Mrs. Perlman looked after her. "What an in- 
telligent face your little friend has," she com- 
mented. "Who is she, Irene?" 

"That's Ida Baum. I guess she's bright 
enough she's valedictorian of our Confirmation 
class, you know, and get's awfully high marks 
in school. But she always goes around with 



172 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

such, a long face as though she couldn't forget 
her school work for a minute!" 

"I thought she looked a little worried," sug- 
gested her mother. 

"Oh, she always looks like that," Irene an- 
swered lightly. "And maybe her mother's sick 
again." 

By this time Irene's mind was entirely at ease 
about her costume, but she received a rude 
shock a few days later when she asked Ida to 
lend her the broad gold bracelets she had seen 
her wear to the Confirmation class. "They're 
so lovely and old-fashioned, I want to wear 
them when we give our Shabuoth play," Irene 
explained. 

"I can't let you have them," answered the 
other after a little hesitation. 

"I'll take the best care of them," Irene prom- 
ised. "You can give them to me just before 
the entertainment and " 

"Oh, I'm not afraid you'll hurt them. But I 
I haven't got them any more." 

"You lost them? What a shame!" cried 
Irene with real sympathy, for she had always 
admired the bracelets. 

Ida's honest little face burned crimson. "No. 
I needed the money so I sold them," she 
ended lamely. "The lady upstairs always liked 
them and she gave me ten dollars for them. 



CLOTHES 173 

I hated to do it because they belonged to my 
mother when she was a little girl and she gave 
them to me on my tenth birthday. But I 
needed the money," she repeated doggedly. 

Irene felt she had a right to be indignant. 
"And she seemed such a nice girl !" she thought. 
"Just to get clothes like the rest of us she's 
sold her mother's bracelets. And there I was 
worrying because, I might be better dressed 
than she was. Now I'll wear what I please." 

Mrs. Perlman found Irene a most exacting lit- 
tle person during the next few days. Deter- 
mined to outshine every other girl in the class 
with her finery, Irene not only raged over imag- 
inary shortcomings in her dress, but found fault 
with her new slippers and declared her gloves 
didn't fit. Then the day before Confirmation, 
Mr. Perlman caused more trouble by bringing 
home an exquisite gold chain for Irene to wear 
with her new dress. 

"It's very beautiful," admitted Mrs. Perl- 
man, "but I hate to have Irene wearing jewelry 
until she's older. This is much too elaborate 
for a little girl. Wear it when you're in high 
school, Irene. I'd better put it away for you." 

"But I bought it for her to wear now," in- 
sisted her father. "And it won't hurt to wear 
it just for Confirmation, anyhow." 

So the next day a very happy girl gave the 



174 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

last flirt to her fresh, white hair ribbons before 
she ran to join her friends in the little dressing 
room at the back of the Temple auditorium. 
Irene knew that she was pretty; she was sure 
that her dress was just right; and, best of all, 
her new necklace was clasped about her throat. 
Her eyes sparkled with pleasure when her 
friends crowded about her to admire it. 

"You're just a picture," whispered Deborah. 
"Now if Ida only looks all right everything 
will be fine; the other girls are perfect, aren't 
they?" 

"You don't have to worry about Ida," an- 
swered Irene a little sharply. "I guess she'll 
look as nice as any of us when she gets here." 

But Ida did not come. At last, when the 
exercises could be postponed no longer, the 
organist began the opening anthem and the 
confirmants moved slowly down the aisle. The 
girls made a lovely picture in their soft white 
dresses, their hands filled with white rosebuds 
and even the boys tried not to slouch or walk 
as though conscious of their new shoes. It was 
a very beautiful service, all the proud parents 
and relatives agreed, and, as neither Ezra nor 
Mrs. Baum were in the audience, there was 
no one to miss Ida's valedictory. Of course, 
the girls all agreed that it was very queer 
she had not come, but then they always ex- 



CLOTHES 175 

pected queer things of Ida Baum! Irene had 
intended to mention the matter to her mother, 
but there was company at dinner and guests 
kept drifting in all afternoon and evening. But 
the next day at recess she asked bluntly: 

"Was your mother sick, Ida, or didn't you 
get your dress done in time? We waited and 
waited and we didn't know what to think when 
you didn't come." 

"I guess you got along all right without me," 
Ida answered dryly. 

"But what was the matter?" urged Irene. 
"I thought you had your dress and slippers 
and ererything ready all the time. Isn't that 
why you sold your bracelets?" 

Ida's gentle eyes fairly blazed and her voice 
trembled a little. "I'll tell you why I didn't 
come," ehe said angrily, "and then I don't 
want you to mention Confirmation or clothes 
to me again. I don't need to tell you I'm 
not rich like the other girls in the class; and 
yet you expected me to get things I couldn't 
afford." 

"But you said it would be all right>" pro- 
tested Irene faintly. 

"I thought it would. Ezra had a little money 
laid aside and I know mamma would have been 
glad to have me use it. But two weeks ago my 
aunt wrote that grandma was much worse; 



176 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

they thought she was dying. They live way up 
in Canada and the tickets and everything cost 
almost as much money as Ezra had in the 
bank. I didn't want him to do everything 
for mama; I wanted to do my share, too. And 
I couldn't have her worried. So when I saw 
how anxious she was to see grandma again " 

"You sold your bracelets!" interrupted Irene. 

"I didn't have anything else. Mama didn't 
want to take the money, but I made her. And 
we got a letter this morning saying grandma 
was a little better and it did her a lot of good 
to see mama again. I'm glad we sent her; 
it was worth more to me than all the Con- 
firmations in the world," she ended defiantly. 

"But why didn't you come anyhow, even if 
you didn't get a new dress?" Irene asked, avoid- 
ing her eyes. 

"I wasn't going after you girls said it would 
spoil everything if I wasn't dressed like the 
others. And I guess Ezra's right saying I 
didn't miss much if Confirmation just means a 
lot of fussy clothes. But I don't want to talk 
about it any more," and, her voice breaking into 
sobs, she turned quickly away. Irene looked 
after her, her own lips twitching. She longed 
to comfort Ida, but she was afraid to follow her. 
"Father," Irene began abruptly at the dinner 
table that evening, "how much did you pay for 



CLOTHES 177 

my new necklace? I know it isn't polite to 
ask, but I just have to know," and, looking 
not a little ashamed, she told Ida's story to 
her parents. "And if you'll only take my 
necklace back to the store, father," she pleaded, 
"and give me ten dollars, I'll buy Ida's brace- 
lets back for her. I know I couldn't wear it 
again without thinking how I dressed up like 
a peacock and kept Ida away, just because we 
girls didn't think of anything but our clothes." 

Her father nodded gravely. "But I'd like the 
bracelets to be a present from all of us," he 
suggested. 

"And I want Irene to keep her necklace," 
added Mrs. Perlman. "It may help her to re- 
member how she and the other girls spoiled Ida's 
Confirmation." 

"I don't need to be reminded of it," answered 
Irene almost savagely. She pushed back her 
chair. "I'm through with dinner," she said 
shortly and left the room. There was a sus- 
picious break in her voice and her father seemed 
about to follow and comfort her, but Mrs. Perl- 
man detained him. 

"I'm glad she's unhappy over her thought- 
lessness," she told him. "Perhaps it did her 
good to be confirmed after all. She needed this 
lesson, but I'm afraid it's been pretty hard on 
Ida." 



THE WESTERN WALL 

A Tisha B'ab Story 

Israel stood leaning against his scraggy don- 
key, one lean hand upon the beast's bridle, the 
other clenched angrily as he watched the group 
of American tourists approaching the Wailing 
Place. It was hard enough to have travellers 
from all over the world spying about his dear 
Jerusalem, laughing and chattering among the 
ruins of David's mighty capital; but it always 
hurt him the most to see a Jew among them. 
How could the tall young man, who looked as 
Jewish as the splendid young guards from the 
farm colonies, stand staring idly at the ruins 
of the Temple of their people! 

Selim, the Arab guide, was telling the story 
of the Wailing Place at that moment; Israel's 
lips curved scornfully as he listened to the 
man's high-sounding phrases. What could Selim 
know of the real meaning of the Western Wall 
whose stones had been wet with Jewish tears 
these weary centuries? Only a Jew could un- 
derstand why those bent old men stood there 
wailing and weeping, swaying like mourners 
in their grief. And yet the tall young Jew with 

179 



180 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the camera slung over his shoulder looked on 
the sacred spot as coldly and curiously as did 
the Gentiles around him. 

"It is the one last remaining wall of the 
Temple of the Jews," Selim was saying in the 
broken English which Israel had also learned in 
his dealings with tourists. "The Temple it was 
destroyed in ruins very many hundred years 
ago, but those Jews they come here to cry and 
be sorry and say prayers for Jerusalem." 

One of the tourists, a stout red-faced man, 
laughed contemptuously. "Say prayers for Je- 
rusalem! They don't need prayers here, but 
an army of street cleaners and a hose or two." 

Israel's face burned with shame. It was al- 
ways that way; visitors in Jerusalem saw noth- 
ing but a dirty, broken-down city, where star- 
ving Jews huddled together in the shadow of 
Turkish mosques and Christian missions. If 
there were only more young men in Jerusalem 
as fine and strong as the American who was 
now adjusting his camera! But the young men 
in Palestine seemed to drift to the Jewish farm 
colonies beyond Jerusalem, leaving the older 
folks to weep helplessly before the ruined wall. 
Israel could hear his own grandfather among 
them, bent and withered, his white head lean- 
ing against the stones as he repeated the 
mourner's chant in a dreary monotone: 



THE WESTERN WALL 181 

"For the palace that lies desolate: We sit in 

solitude and mourn; 
"For the walls that are overthrown: We sit in 

solitude and mourn; 
"For our majesty that is departed: We sit in 

solitude and mourn; 
"We pray Thee, have mercy on Zion! Gather 

the children of Jerusalem." 
The boy's eyes filled with tears as he listened 
to the old Hebrew lamentation. He had heard 
the prayer for so many years, ever since his 
grandfather had brought him to Palestine, a 
little six year old orphan who believed that 
Jerusalem was a golden city where David still 
reigned as king. During the ten years that had 
passed since the strange pair left their home 
in Poland, Israel had learned that the majesty 
had indeed departed from Jerusalem. The Turk 
ruled in the city of David and where Solomon's 
Temple had glittered in its glory, hungry old 
men wept and prayed in vain. 

The tourists, eager for new sensations, turned 
to follow Selim. Only the young Jew with the 
camera remained behind. Now he unslung it 
from his shoulder, adjusted the tripod and pro- 
ceeded to "focus" for his picture, the uncon- 
scious group before the Western Wall. Israel 
watched him, his heart swelling with rage. So 
the stranger was going to do as so many other 



182 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

tourists had done before: take a picture of the 
mourners back to his own country for his 
friends to laugh over as something outlandish 
and queer. He bit his lips, scowling savagely; 
if he were only a little taller and stronger, 
like Haroud from the Petach Tikvah colony, he 
would teach this hateful American not to make 
sport of his fellow Jews. 

The young man turned and was about to close 
his camera when he caught sight of Israel, 
leaning against his scraggy donkey, his fists 
doubled in helpless anger. As he stood there 
in the growing dusk, the first breeze of even- 
ing fluttering his tattered garments about his 
lithe brown body, the boy seemed more like 
one of the Arab donkey boys in the market 
place than a son of Judah. The stranger found 
him picturesque enough, "a sulky young Ish- 
mael," as he phrased it, and he hastily ad- 
justed his camera for another picture. 

But Israel had seen too many tourists with 
their cameras not to understand how rapidly 
the little black box caught one's face. He 
turned to go, but the stranger called after 
him. 

"Say, come back here," he ordered. Then, as 
Israel did not reply, but merely tightened his 
donkey's bridle: "Can't you understand Eng- 
lish? I guess you'll understand this, though," 



THE WESTERN WALL 183 

and lie pulled a coin from his pocket and held 
it toward the boy with one hand, pointing to 
the camera with the other. 

Israel had not earned a piaster (Turkish 
coin, equivalent to about four cents) all day 
and for a moment he faltered; why not pose 
for his picture since the money in the tourist's 
hand would keep his grandfather and him from 
going to bed hungry that night? He hesitated, 
and, even as he did so, he heard the camera 
click and the stranger chuckle at outwitting 
him. 

All of Israel's pent-up anger against the hate- 
ful American and Ms kind, burst into sudden 
flame. He sprang forward and would have 
dashed the camera to the ground, had not the 
young man restrained him and held him at 
arm's length. The boy chafed and struggled 
under his strong hand but could not free him- 
self. "Let me go," he cried hotly, speaking 
Yiddish in his excitement. "I'll not let you 
have my picture I'll not let you take it away 
in your cursed camera." 

The young man released Israel, but watched 
his camera with a wary eye. "You little fool," 
he said good-naturedly, answering in the same 
language, "if you're a Jew and you talk like 
one why don't you act like one, too, instead 
of a wild Bedouin?" 



184 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

"And why don't you act like a real Jew?" 
retorted Israel hotly, glad that the man could 
understand the language spoken in Jerusalem's 
colony of Russian and Polish Jews. "You come 
here and make fun of us Jews; you take pic- 
tures of old men like grandfather and then 
you laugh at them the way that fat man did 
when he said we ought to clean up a little. 
Why don't you take pictures of the farm col- 
onies where everything is nice and clean and 
teke them back to America?" 

The young man looked at him keenly for a 
moment ; then, without a word, he drew a small 
leather folder from his pocket and opened it 
before the angry boy. "I took these pictures 
in Petach Tikvah the last time I visited the 
Jewish colonies," he answered quietly. "I wanted 
my friends in America to see what splendid 
work our young men are doing there. And 
I am taking their pictures," he indicated the 
old men before the Wailing Wall, "to show my 
friends in America how miserable some people 
are in Jerusalem how many broken down 
places there are that we must build up again." 
He smiled, a bright, boyish smile. "Now do 
you want to break my camera and destroy my 
pictures?" he asked. 

"But I didn't know ," stammered Israel. 
"And and one of those old men is my grand- 
father." 



THE WESTERN WALL 185 

The American's keen eyes softened. "No 
wonder you were angry when you saw us all 
staring at them," he answered gravely. "But 
you see that you were mistaken in me; just as 
I was mistaken in thinking you an Arab." 

"I know I'm as ragged as an Arab donkey 
boy," Israel answered, flushing a little. "Grand- 
father can do no work and the money the 
Halukah (charitable organization for poor Jews 
in Jerusalem) gives him is scarcely enough to 
buy him bread. I carry fire wood and some- 
times a tourist hires my beast to ride about 
the city, but we find it hard to live." 

"Have you lived here long?" 

"Almost ten years. I was just a little boy 
when grandfather brought me here from Po- 
land. My parents were dead and he could not 
leave me behind. He had always wanted to 
come to Jerusalem that he might die in the 
Holy Land." His voice grew bitter. "And he 
came to a dead city. But it did not hurt him 
as it does me. He believes that some day God 
will send His Messiah to rebuild the Temple 
and give Jerusalem back to the Jews. He 
doesn't seem to see the dead things around us 
the old men starving, the sick and blind chil- 
dren, the boys like me ," he broke off abruptly. 

"The boys like you will rebuild Jerusalem," 
declared the other slowly. 



186 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

Israel turned toward Mm again, his eyes 
bright with tears. "What can I do?" he de- 
manded, almost savagely. 

"Have you ever been to the Jewish farm col- 
onies?" 

Israel nodded. "Yes, and many times I have 
seen the young men from the colonies and once 
I spoke with Haroud from Petach Tikvah." 
The boy's eyes kindled with enthusiasm. "He 
rides like an Arab and the Turks do not scorn 
him when they meet him in the market place. 
They laugh at Jews like grandfather and me 
they think we can only study and pray; but 
they know the guards in the colonies are strong 
and tall and can fight and hold their own." 

"Have you ever thought of working in the 
colonies?" 

"I'd rather go to one of them and plant 
orange trees and ride about on a black horse 
like Haroud's than do anything else in the 
world," cried Israel. Then his shoulders sagged 
hopelessly. "But I cannot leave my grandfather. 
He is old and feeble there is no place for him. 
And he will not leave Jerusalem." 

"I leave for Petach Tikvah tomorrow," the 
young man told him. "I'm an American but I 
want to try farming in Palestine for a few 
years. I've got some land there and I want 
men to work it men like you who are ashamed 



THE WESTERN WALL 187 

of the old Jerusalem and want to build the new 
one. Here's my card," and he slipped a bit 
of pasteboard in the boy's sunburnt hand. 
"If you can get anyone to look after your grand- 
father, come to see me donkey and all and 
I'll see whether I can't teach you a little about 
planting and ploughing." He held out his hand 
and Israel grasped it warmly. 

"But you don't know me," he faltered. "You 
won't do so much for a stranger !" 

"All Israel are brothers," quoted the other, 
"besides I do know you. A lad with your Jew- 
ish pride ought to make a good builder. I do 
hope you can come to me soon. By the way, 
let me speak to your grandfather and try to 
persuade him to come with you." 

Israel shook his head. "I have tried before 
he will not leave Jerusalem. It has been the 
wish of his heart for so many years to die 
here that it would be cruel to force him to go 
away. And I would not tell him of my desire 
to go to the colonies he thinks I am con- 
tented and it is better that he does not know 
how I hate my life here." 

The boy spoke bravely enough, but in the 
days that followed his meeting with the Amer- 
ican he found it very difficult to overcome the 
temptation of speaking to his grandfather and 
begging him to leave Jerusalem. Or, Israel 



188 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

argued with himself, why not leave the old man 
behind and send him his earnings every month? 
Ever since he had talked with Haroud, Israel 
had longed to be a guard in the colonies; he 
had thought of his ambition as a foolish dream ; 
yet now he had only to go to Petach Tikvah, 
ehow the magic bit of pasteboard with the 
name, Henry Abrams, engraved upon it, and he 
would be transferred from a ragged donkey 
boy to an independent colonist. But he never 
dared to speak to his grandfather of his long- 
ings, and the old man, who prayed long and 
earnestly before the Western Wall, never 
dreamed of the boy's despair. 

"Tomorrow is Tisha B'ab (Mnth of Ab)," he 
told Israel one day. "We must fast as is our 
custom." He smiled a little. "We seldom eat 
over much, even when it is not a fast day." 

"Grandfather," the boy asked him suddenly, 
"why must we fast on Tisha B'ab?" 

The old man was plainly shocked. "Heathen," 
he chided the lad, "don't you know that on 
Tisha B'ab our holy Temple was twice destroyed 
once by the Babylonians and once by the 
Romans? On the ninth of Ab it fell and on 
Tisha B'ab we fast and mourn for its loss." 

Israel moved uneasily. "Yes I know all 
that," he answered, "but why must we grieve? 
It all happened so many years ago." 



THE WESTERN WALL 189 

His grandfather looked at him sharply. "You 
speak like a heathen," he said sternly. "Though 
it happened ten times ten hundred years ago, 
we whose hearts are still Jewish will fast every 
Tisha B'ab and pray before the Wall." 

"It's strange just the Western Wall is still 
standing," mused Israel. 

"Nay, it was the will of God." Uncon- 
sciously the old man's body swayed, his voice 
rose and fell like the old rabbi's in whose Cheder 
he had heard the legend so many years ago. 
"When Solomon built the Temple he called 
upon all the men of Israel to assist him; the 
nobles built one wall and gave of their wealth; 
the soldiers another and gave their strength and 
skill in arms; the sages and teachers gave the 
third wall and made it beautiful with their 
wisdom. But the poor and the lowly gave 
their very hearts to the Holy One, blessed be 
He, when they labored to rear the fourth wall, 
which is the western, and that wall remains 
to this very day and will remain until the 
Holy One, blessed be He, will send the Messiah, 
son of David, to rebuild our Temple. Yea, may 
my eyes behold Thy return," he ended, dropping 
into Hebrew, and Israel, knowing that he 
prayed, was silent. 

That evening and all the next day Israel 
sat beside him in the stuffy little synagogue, his 



190 JEWISH HDLYDAY STORIES 

heart as heavy as a mourner's, although he often 
failed to recite the lamentations wailed by those 
about him. Seated upon the ground like those 
who weep for their dead, their heads bowed, 
their eyes streaming with tears, they recited the 
words of the prophet Jeremiah, who, legend 
tells us, was an eyewitness of the destruction 
of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The hearts 
of the older men grieved over the destruction 
of their city centuries ago; but the boy sor- 
rowed at the misery about him and he longed 
more than ever to escape into the free air of 
the colonies where he might plant and plough 
and help to build the new Palestine. 

The long day was over at last and Israel's 
grandfather rose stiffly from his place upon the 
ground. The memorial candles had burned low 
in their sockets; outside the synagogue a fiery 
July sun blazed as it sank to rest. Israel 
noticed how his grandfather staggered from 
weakness and caught his arms. Leaning heav- 
ily upon his staff, one hand upon his grand- 
son's shoulder, the old man turned homeward. 

t( You should not have fasted you look weak 
and ill," Israel told him. 

"From the days of my youth have I fasted 
on this day; now that I am old shall I dis- 
regard His commandments?" reproached the old 
man, speaking with difficulty. 



THE WESTERN WALL 191 

They came in sight of the Western Wall, 
last remnant of the Temple, for whose res- 
toration the faithful soul still prayed. Israel 
urged him not to linger but he would not listen. 
Staggering a little, he made his way to the 
Wall, and, pressing his lips against the stones, 
murmured the heart-breaking chant he had re- 
cited so long. "For the palace that lies deso- 
late," he began, swaying to and fro. 

"Grandfather," urged Israel, "you have not 
eaten since yesterday at sunset. You are faint 
for food. Come home with me." 

But the old man did not seem to hear him. 
"For the walls that are overthrown," he con- 
tinued to chant hopelessly. 

Israel caught his arm to lead him away. 
Even as he did so, the old man's eyes bright- 
ened with a strange hope, his weary shoulders 
straightened and his voice was like that of a 
young man. "My eyes shall see His return," he 
cried triumphantly as he sank to the ground. 

When Israel tried to raise him he was smiling 
as though on the day of fast and lamentation 
he had indeed seen salvation for Jerusalem. 
Israel could not weep for him; it seemed a 
blessed thing that the faithful watcher at the 
wall had had his wish at last he had died in 
his Jerusalem, happy in the thought of the re- 
turn to Zion. Israel closed his eyes and folded 



192 JEWISH HOLYDAY STORIES 

the tired, wrinkled hands. "Good-bye, grand- 
father," he whispered. He rose, his eyes bright 
with hope. "I am going to leave Jerusalem 
but I will come back again and help to build 
the Wall." He drew the bit of cardboard from 
his breast; it was soiled and worn with much 
handling. "I am going to learn to plough and 
plant," murmured the boy. "When my days 
of mourning are over I am going to Petach 
Tikvah to learn to be a soldier for Palestine!" 



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DEC 2 71957;' 
1958 



** 

VEB 1 3 19$9 

MAR2719S9 



MAY'2-jj 



8 19 
SEP 3 1974 



1974 



Form L9-37m-.'i,'57(C5424s4)444 



A 000 876 386 4